As an extension of the measures already adopted on 15 March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, three further legislative packages, the 3rd, 4th and 5th COVID-19 Acts, which comprise a total of 92 articles, were adopted on 2 April 2020, which, among other things, bring some relevant changes to real estate law.
The regulations came into force on 5 April 2020 and partly retroactively as of 1 April 2020 and are valid until 31 December 2020.
Limitation of the legal consequences of rent arrears in housing rental agreements (Article 37, I. Main Part, § 1)
The legal consequences of rent arrears shall be restricted. If rent arrears arise in the months April to June 2020 as a result of the pandemic, termination or cancellation of the rental agreement is provisionally excluded in accordance with § 1118 of the Austrian Civil Code (Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, ABGB.
Until December 31, 2020, the arrears of payment cannot be claimed by the landlord in court or covered by a deposit handed over by the tenant. The arrears must be paid by mid 2022 at the latest.
If it is not paid in full, the landlord has the right to base a termination of the lease agreement or an action for termination of the agreement on this arrears as of July 1, 2022. Accordingly, the landlord’s right to make a failure to pay rent the basis of a termination of contract is not completely eliminated but postponed for two years.
The landlord is still entitled to terminate the lease for other reasons.
Extension of fixed-term housing rental contracts (Article 37, I. Main Part, § 5)
If a fixed-term residential rental agreement expires after 30 March 2020 and before 1 July 2020, it may, notwithstanding § 29 Austrian Tenancy Act (Mietrechtsgesetz, MRG), be extended in writing until the end of the year. If it is not extended after expiry of this extension period, § 29(3)(b) MRG shall apply.
Postponement of the execution of eviction (Article 37, II. Main Part, § 6)
The deferment of an eviction execution under § 349 Execution Code (Exekutionsordnung, EO) is possible at the request of the obligor without the imposition of a security deposit if the dwelling is indispensable to meet the urgent housing needs of the obligor and the persons living with him in the common household, unless the eviction is indispensable to avert serious personal or economic disadvantages for the creditor. The creditor shall be given the opportunity to make a written statement prior to the decision on the deferment; the period for making a statement is not interrupted under § 1 1. COVID-19-JuBG, Federal Law Gazette I No. 16/2020.
As soon as the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been lifted, or at the latest six months after the granting of deferment, the proceedings shall continue at the request of the creditor. The proceedings shall be continued within three months of the granting of deferment only if the conditions set out in the preceding section are no longer fulfilled.
There is no compensation of costs between the parties.