Global menu

Our global pages

Close

Coronavirus - Gradual easing of the COVID-19 restrictions and tenancy reductions - Austria

  • Austria
  • Coronavirus - Country overview
  • Coronavirus - Return to work

11-05-2020

Since 1 May, all retail shops and service providers, with the exemption of restaurants and hotels, have been allowed to reopen. During the period of closure, a right to suspend rental payments under Section 1104 of the Austrian Civil Code (ABGB) or at least a right to a rent reduction under Section 1105 of the Austrian Civil Code (ABGB) applied to the majority of the closed shops. Therefore, the question arises whether, due to the conditions that were partly imposed in connection with the reopening, which continue to restrict the use of shops and service businesses, a claim for rent reduction still exists or whether the rents must be paid again in full.

Particular attention should be taken to Section 2 no. 4 of the easing regulation of the ministry of health, which states the following: Business owners are obliged to take suitable measures to ensure that a maximum number of customers are present in the customer area at the same time so that 10 m² are available per customer; if the customer area is smaller than 10 m², only one customer may enter the premises at a time.

This makes it almost impossible, especially for small shops up to 30 m² to serve more than 2-3 customers at the same time. This is particularly problematic for businesses that normally serve several customers at the same time in a small space throughout the day, such as hairdressers, small grocery stores, beauty salons, etc. Many of these businesses can currently work with only half or even fewer employees due to these requirements and continue to suffer considerable losses of income as a result. Their business premises can therefore only be used to a limited extent despite the easing regulation. Since these restrictions were imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these limitations on business operations continue to represent unforeseeable impairments of business operations for the business owners within the meaning of the provisions of Sections 1104 and 1105 of the Austrian Civil Code (ABGB) and, in our opinion, entitle them to a rent reduction to the extent of the business operations reduced by the restrictions.

Conclusion: The amount of the reduction must be assessed on a case-by-case basis and can vary considerably from one company to another. We therefore continue to recommend that you either reach a mutual agreement with the landlord on a reduction in rent or, if this is not possible, that you pay the rent, subject to subsequent reclaim. This makes it possible to reclaim the overpaid rent even later - if there is an established case law - in court if necessary. After obtaining appropriate legal advice, parts of the rent can of course also be actively retained.