Maintenance & Repair – Differences explained

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Sooner or later, repair work and renovation work will be carried out in every apartment – but who has to pay for it? The tenant or the landlord, the apartment owner or the administration? Of fundamental importance for this decision is whether it is maintenance or repair work.

What is the difference between maintenance and repair?

Maintenance is understood to mean the ongoing care and maintenance of already existing objects, i.e. the current condition of the property must be maintained. This includes, for example, minor repair work within the apartment. This work must be carried out by the owner alone. Repair, on the other hand, is understood to mean the initial installation or renewal, for example when the boiler is replaced. Here the costs are distributed to the WEG.

In the case of rental agreements, the maintenance obligations can be freely agreed between tenant and landlord apart from damage affecting general parts of the house. If the tenancy falls within the full scope of the Tenancy Act (MRG), the costs must in any case be borne by the landlord. But also according to §1096 ABGB, the landlord has to keep the rental object in conditional use.

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What counts as maintenance expenses?

Maintenance costs exist when only insignificant parts of the building are replaced and there is no significant increase in the value in use or the useful life.

Examples:Ongoing maintenanceRepairs, even if they do not occur annuallyPainting the staircase and the roomsPainting the façadeRepairing the plasterRenewal of parts of buildings due to force majeure (storm and hail damage)

Mr. A awards the contract with 9,000 euros to repaint the façade. Result: Mr. A. can choose whether to set the 9,000 euros immediately as advertising costs or spread them over ten years. The latter would mean that 900 euros per year in advertising costs would be incurred for ten years.

What counts as repair costs?

The repair costs increase the utility value of the building or significantly extend the useful life (more than 25 percent). These include:Replacement of windows and doorsReplacement of roof or roof trussReplacement of stairsReplacement of false ceilings and partitionsReplacement of subfloorsReplacement of elevator systemsReplacement of heating systemsReplacement of electrical, gas, water, plumbing and heating installationsExtensive renewal of exterior plaster and thermal insulationDrainage of walls

If only individual apartments are renovated in the above sense (less than 25 percent of the building), there is still only maintenance costs.

How are maintenance and repair regulated by the Tenancy Act?

According to § 8 Abs. 1 MRG, the lessee is obliged to maintain and repair the rental object and the co-let inventory insofar as neither the landlord nor other tenants suffer any damage. Therefore, the tenant alone bears the costs of this maintenance and repair work. In any case, the tenant must carry out or arrange for simple repair work himself.

When does the tenant have to pay for repairs?

Repairs that go beyond preservation and maintenance are generally to be paid for by the lessor, unless they have become necessary due to subsequent use by the lessee. An example of this is the replacement of an old boiler. In the case of minor repairs, the tenant has no claim against the landlord. If the landlord does not want to pay for major repair measures, the landlord can exert pressure on the landlord via the rent reduction claim of §1096 ABGB.

Apartment owners have to bear these costs within their own four walls. If commonly used objects are repaired or maintained, the repair costs are distributed to the WEG using a distribution key. In the case of residential property, this also applies to the repair costs, which are usually compensated in the form of a reserve at the time of purchase or with the annual administrative costs. If major expenses such as replacing the solar system are necessary, all apartment owners must be informed and a vote must take place. If the majority agrees, the distribution of the repair costs is deemed accepted. A landlord already has to take these costs into account when renting and cannot transfer them to the tenant.

Who has to pay for the maintenance of the spa?

In 2015, it was decided that the landlord is responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of thermal baths, heat preparation equipment and boilers. However, the maintenance must be paid for by the tenant. This new regulation applies to rental properties that fall within the full and partial scope of the MRG and is retroactive, i.e. it also applies to contracts concluded before 2015.

This is how maintenance and repair are regulated in the lease

In leases, formulations such as “The tenant is obliged to return the property in good and usable condition” or “in good, damage-free condition” can often be found. In the first case, serious damage must always be repaired. In the second case, the repair of all and not just larger, coarser damage is meant.

The distribution of maintenance obligations and the definition of the condition in which the leased property is to be returned should be defined as clearly as possible in the lease.

How is depreciation carried out for maintenance and repair?

Repair costs are to be spread over ten years. Maintenance expenses are immediately deductible for owners or, in the case of non-annually recurring work, such as the replacement of a heating system, to be spread over ten years on request.

If the expenses are not directly deductible or if depreciation over ten years is not possible, they are special expenses. There is a cap on special expenses: a maximum of EUR 730 (up to EUR 1,825 for single earners/single parents with three children) can be deducted from the tax base each year.

How tenants can deduct special expenses from the tax

The tenant can also claim the special expense deduction for tax purposes due to an extraordinary burden. The burden resulting from the remedying of the damage must: be exceptional,inevitably adultsignificantly impair economic performance

The economic performance is impaired if the costs of repairing the damage exceed the legally standardized deductible of the injured party. The deductible for an income ofmaximum EUR 7,300 = 6 percent of income EUR 7,300 to EUR 14,600 = 8 percent of incomeEUR 14,600 to EUR 36,400 = 10 percent of incomeover € 36,400 = 12 percent of income

The deductible is reduced by one percent for single earners or single parents as well as for each child.