The majority of Viennese apartments are rental apartments. Most of the apartments (especially those in old buildings) are subject to the Austrian Act on Tenancy Law (MRG) that has exact regulations for maximum rent (depending on the apartment category) and the possibility of limiting the term of a tenancy agreement. Too many people are not sufficiently aware of the regulations relating to the protection of tenants provided by the MRG. This is why we recommend having an expert (Austrian Tenant Association) check your tenancy agreement.
If you rent a private owned apartments you have a contract directly with your landlord or the property management company.
Residential Building Cooperatives
For these apartments, tenants are required to pay a fairly large amount of money as soon as they move in to contribute towards construction costs. In return the rent is considerably lower. From a legal point of view, cooperative society apartments are also available to persons without Austrian citizenship. This also applies to subsidised cooperative society apartments. There are various forms of financial aid for families/persons with low income.
Vienna is famous for its large amount of public housing buildings. Apartments in community-owned buildings (“Gemeindebau”) are available to Austrians, EU citizens, Swiss citizens and third-country nationals who are in possession of the residence title “Permanent Residence – EC”. To apply for an apartment in a Gemeindebau you must further meet a list of conditions.
Find more information on the official City of Vienna website wien.at
Living in a shared apartment (“Wohngemeinschaft” (WG)) is a common thing for students and young folks in Vienna. In newspapers, on bulletin boards and websites you can find either people searching a room or existing WGs who are looking for new roommates.
Obviously, not all strangers make good roommates, but less obviously, not all friends make good roommates.
Internet bulletin boars can be found on:
What’s in a room? Furnished or unfurnished
Both types of apartments are available but furnished houses are fairly difficult to find on the rental market.
When they say unfurnished here they sometimes mean empty even though that is no longer so common especially for those landlords that cater to the expat market. In some of the older buildings even the quite elegant ones you might find that they have no closets, light fixtures, curtain rods, appliances and in some instances no kitchen furnishings at all.
You can often buy these things from expats moving out, or from a number of stores in Vienna like IKEA or Kika at a reasonable price. And with a bit of savvy you may even get the landlord to foot the bill as an improvement to the apartment. Be prepared when buying furniture and appliances from stores waiting periods can be anywhere from a week to two months.
Vienna does get quite warm in the summer, if you do not like the heat, check into air-conditioned housing, though it not yet so prevalent here (When considering rooftop apartments be warned these can get incredibly hot in the summer). Another solution is a ceiling fan. They are a bit more expensive here, but worth the cost. Again check with future landlord about permission to install them or perhaps he may do that also to upgrade the apartment, he may even install air conditioning, it never hurts to ask.
Before foreigners can conclude a sales agreement with legal effect, they need an official permit to do so. More infos at the website of the City of Vienna