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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Felbermayr confirms the usefulness of a tiered rental price brake

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Wifo boss Gabriel Felbermayr
Photo: (Volker Weihbold)
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But the burdens should be distributed in a socially fair manner. He also confirmed this in the ORF “ZiB2” on Tuesday for the benchmark rents: It would be best for them to increase them over two or three years, instead of by 8.6 percent on April 1, as is currently threatened. The ÖVP and the Greens are still negotiating.

“Two percent seems very radical to me,” said the director of the economic research institute (Wifo) in the evening on the demand from the SPÖ, AK and ÖGB, who only want to see rents rise by a maximum of 2 percent a year. “Two percent would be the right figure if we see inflation developing around two percent again in the medium term,” said Felbermayr. It must be possible to find a middle ground. Owners as well as tenants would have to contribute. The economist always emphasizes that stronger shoulders have to carry more burdens, which in this case are the owners.

“Goes for a stretch”

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It’s not about a cover, it’s about stretching. That would minimize hardship. Everyone would have to tighten their belts, the Wifo boss reminded of the many crises. Felbermayr recently referred to a loss of prosperity that will continue this year and next.

Across Austria, there are around 375,000 reference value rental apartments, for which without measures the rental costs will increase by 8.6 percent as of April 1st. There are also around 135,000 apartments with category rents, for which the costs could rise by 5 percent in July.

The AK also wants a regulation for a further 400,000 free rents with indexation. Felbermayr could also imagine a solution for all rental apartments in the “ZiB2”.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) recently announced an “overall package” after coalition talks on the rental price brake broke down despite the increasingly urgent time, but without naming a date. According to media reports, the ultimately unimplemented plan of turquoise and green would have provided for increases over three years. The People’s Party also wants to turn the screws on the real estate transfer tax. In order for a solution to be found before April 1st, an agreement must be reached by mid-March in order to get the matter through the National Council in good time.

“Property tax and real estate transfer tax should be reformed”

“Spreading the increase in reference rents over 3 years would be a sensible solution in an extremely difficult situation,” Felbermayr had already stated in February about the rental price brake. “Property tax and real estate transfer tax should be reformed. But as part of the financial equalization and as part of a package,” said Felbermayr recently.

In principle, it is important to find ways to bring inflation back down towards the two percent target. According to Felbermayr, wages are much balanced in the KV sector and social benefits have been indexed. But the cake got smaller and a loss of prosperity had to be digested. Everyone felt that.

The Wifo director attributes one to one and a half percentage points of the recently higher price pressure in Austria to the fact that there is more demand in many segments than in other EU countries – due to the large amount of help in Austria “with the famous watering can”. Austria has more homework to do in combating inflation than other countries in the euro zone.

According to the data, companies are increasing their prices more than their costs justify, which is the case across Europe. It needs more competition, better control.

Source: Nachrichten

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