The cold rent or house money is actually already high enough. But a house also has operating costs, some of which have to be borne by the individual tenant. That is why a “flat-rate ancillary costs” is added to the cold rent. In this overview we inform you about all possible items that can be billed as operating costs.
According to the legislator, the additional costs flat rate is only to be seen as an advance payment for costs actually incurred. This means: If a tenant has paid too many ancillary costs calculated for the accounting year, he is entitled to part of them as a refund. However, this also applies the other way around: If it turns out that the ancillary costs were calculated as too low, the tenant must pay the landlord back the difference. Similar rules apply to homeowners, especially if they live in a condominium property.
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What are the additional costs?
The ancillary costs are all costs incurred by the landlord for the management of the house per year. The emphasis is on “per year”. The definition of ancillary costs means that they must be recurring on a regular basis in order to be considered as such. Expensive refurbishment measures, such as the conversion of a heating system or the application of thermal insulation, can therefore not be billed as ancillary costs. However, this does not mean that the landlord cannot recover such costs from the tenants. With these one-off investments, the landlord has the option of gradually adjusting the basic rent.
Typical additional costs are:
- Municipal Property Tax
- Insurance, eg fire and elementary insurance
- Water costs: costs for maintaining the water meters, basic amount, consumption costs, if available, the costs for maintaining a water treatment plant.
- Drainage costs: sewer fees, maintenance costs of a septic tank
- Operating and floor current
- Costs for the gardener to maintain communal lawns
- Hallway cleaning, roof cleaning, chimney sweep, driveway cleaning
- Disposal and security services, caretaker services
- Costs for shared reception modules such as antenna, satellite dish or cable connection
- Costs for shared rooms, e.g. laundry room
But be careful: the costs are always charged per rental apartment and permanent resident. That means families pay more than singles. However, vacant apartments may not be deducted from the ancillary cost contributions! The landlord must bear the amounts that he cannot apportion due to a vacancy.
Additional costs for your own home
A home is self-used and self-owned living space. Rented apartments are therefore not considered to be your own home, since ownership of the property does not lie with the tenant. However, even with a home of your own there are running costs. These operating costs are roughly equivalent to the normal ancillary rental costs.
Residents of a single-family home have little choice but to calculate their operating costs themselves. In the case of multi-family houses that are divided into condominiums, a so-called “house fee” is usually charged. This house money can be surprisingly high. 300 – 400 euros a month are not uncommon. Nevertheless, this house money must also be precisely accounted for and broken down. However, there is a special feature with house money: In addition to paying the ongoing operating costs of a jointly used house, the house money is also intended as a reserve for repairs. This is why it sometimes becomes a bit difficult with the house money solution to reclaim overpaid ancillary cost contributions.
The basis for the reimbursement or additional payment is the so-called “ancillary cost statement”. The landlord usually sends this statement to the tenant within the first three months of the following calendar year. In the case of homeowners, this is done by the appointed property management. However, the legislature is quite generous in granting the deadline. The landlord can apply until 31.12. of the following calendar year to send in the utility bill. After that, however, it is time-barred for him. However, there are exceptions: if the tenant has moved and the landlord needs a long time to find the new address, he can use the time spent to do this as additional space for sending the utility bill.
For his part, the tenant is entitled to a detailed ancillary cost statement. The landlord must therefore also prepare an ancillary cost statement after the 12-month limitation period. However, he can no longer sue for the resulting claims against the tenant. Overpaid ancillary cost contributions must still be paid after 12 months.
For his part, the tenant has the option of having an ancillary cost statement checked. He can use it to determine whether the amount of a claim is justified or whether a refunded amount may be underestimated. The tenant has 12 months to carry out this check. In plain language, this means: The tenant has a whole year to settle a claim back from the landlord. However, he should be able to prove that the service charge statement is actually being professionally examined. However, the deadline does not run automatically, but only after the filing of an objection. If the tenant does nothing, there is a 30-day period after receipt of the utility bill.
Check utility bills
To give you a number: It has been statistically proven that 81% of all utility bills are incorrect. Most often, these mistakes are to the detriment of the tenants. It is therefore recommended to everyone to check the service charge statement before paying or accepting it.
There are four ways for the tenant to do this:
- online exam
- Examination by tenant protection association
- Examination by a specialized lawyer
Self-examination is a very big challenge. The problem is that the landlord is usually reluctant to disclose the actual costs incurred. In addition, the distribution key for the costs is very complicated. In an apartment building with a communal staircase, central heating and gardener, the breakdown by individual tenant can be very complicated.
It is helpful here to divide the utility bill by the square footage of the apartment and then compare the result with the regional average. Information about the usual, locally charged ancillary cost contributions per square meter can be obtained from the municipal administration. With this rough guideline in mind, you can then go into more detail.
The online test, on the other hand, is much more convenient. There are numerous tools on the Internet that can make it easier to assess the utility bill. If you approach a similar result with the help of the tools, then the billing will be largely correct. However, if there are major deviations, you should follow up.
The local tenants’ associations usually have a service with which the utility bills can be checked with legal certainty. But you should be a member of one of these clubs. For non-members, the service is usually significantly more expensive.
Finally, there is still the way to a lawyer who specializes in utility bills or tenancy law. The lawyer is always the most expensive way. In addition, very few landlords like to get mail from a lawyer. Therefore, this possibility should be carefully considered. However, the review of the ancillary cost statement is not automatically covered by any rental legal protection insurance that may exist. Many, but not all, insurance companies will cover the costs. It is always worth asking your own rental legal expenses insurance.
Ultimately, the legal examination is not that expensive either. It costs between 80 and 250 euros. Of course, these costs are also fully deductible from income tax.
reduce additional costs
Instead of constantly arguing with the landlord, you can also do a number of things to reduce the additional costs yourself.
If you are a pensioner or a housewife with a lot of free time, you can set up your own caretaker service, for example. In this role, you can offer the landlord to clean the stairwell, move the garbage cans on the day of collection, and take care of the lawn, garden, and driveway yourself. This not only saves the previously charged costs. As a rule, good money can also be earned on the side. However, it also comes with a big commitment. A caretaker service usually includes a winter service, for example. If you have signed a corresponding contract and do not meet your obligations, you are liable for accidents and injuries caused by improperly cleared paths!
If electricity and gas or oil are billed via the additional costs, you can also take care of your own contract with the energy suppliers. The item is then calculated from the ancillary cost contributions. But it is important to look closely! Many lure offers usually end in significantly more expensive tariffs than before!
If you have your own thermal bath with a connection to the chimney, you can commission its maintenance yourself. The service provided by the chimney sweep is income tax deductible.
Always deduct additional costs!
Additional costs can be stated in the tax return. They are deductible up to 1200 euros.
This also applies to repair services for self-employed craftsmen, for example the chimney sweep. However, it is very important that the bill is never paid in cash, but always by bank transfer. Invoices paid in cash are not accepted by the tax office. In this way, several hundred euros a year can quickly “get through your fingers”.