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Ancillary costs

Legal information on ancillary costs.

The answer in detail

Ancillary costs

Ancillary costs are a major point of dispute in rental relationships. Who has to bear these costs? How much is actually owed? Is the statement correct? Why do I have to pay extra? Here, we offer you help on the most important questions on ancillary costs and have put together a fact sheet of detailed answers for you at the end of the text.

What are ancillary costs?

Ancillary costs are costs that are incurred through the direct use of the rental property. Costs that serve to maintain the property are generally not considered ancillary costs. Ancillary costs are always only the actual costs; they cannot be used to make a profit. Consumer costs, such as telephone, TV, or Internet fees do not represent ancillary costs and must be paid directly by the tenants.

Who has to pay ancillary costs?

Tenants only have to pay for ancillary costs if this is expressly stipulated in the rental agreement. If the agreement does not include any provisions on this, then the ancillary costs are deemed to be included in the rent. It is not sufficient for the rental agreement to state that all ancillary costs must be borne by the tenants. The individual cost items must be specified precisely. As an exception, the label "heating and warm water costs" is enough since it is governed expressly in law what may be charged under this item (Art. 5 and 6 of the Ordinance on the Lease and Usufructuary Lease of Residential and Business Premises (OLRB)).

Are there different types of ancillary costs?

There are operating costs and heating and warm water costs (we provide details on these in the fact sheet).

What ancillary costs are allowed?

The following list shows what ancillary costs are allowed. It is not exhaustive and, as always, the devil is in the details. 

Permitted ancillary costs:

  1. Heating and warm water costs:
    • Fuels that were used
    • Electricity for burners and pumps
    • Periodic burner service
    • Tank inspection and the corresponding reserves
    • Chimney sweep
    • Cleaning of the heating installations
    • Removal of waste and slag
    • Periodic inspection of the heating installation as well as descaling
    • Consumption recording
    • Servicing
    • Insurance premiums that solely relate to the heating installations
  2. Usual operating costs:
    • Water costs: Water as well as any chemicals
    • Janitor costs, cleaning of stairwells, and gardening: only wages (incl. social security contributions) and materials
    • Electricity: General lighting and electricity consumption
    • Elevator: Electricity and periodic service
    • Usage fee for antennas or cable networks
    • Sewage and garbage fees
    • VAT, discounts, and rebates must be passed on and deducted from the tenant
    • An additional 3% of the heating and ancillary costs can be charged as administrative costs

Prohibited ancillary costs:

  • Repairs and investments
  • Tools and machinery
  • Taxes
  • Building insurance
  • Connection fees for cable networks or the sewer system
  • Drainage fees
  • Development fees 
  • Mortgage fees and fees for building rights

How are the ancillary costs paid?

The ancillary costs can either already be included in the rent, paid as flat fee, transfered directly to third parties (e.g. gardeners), or settled by means of payment on account - for which an annual statement with a reimbursement or extra payment details is issued.

Caution is advised: Check before the rental agreement comes into effect whether payment on account really covers the ancillary costs or whether you will regularly have to pay extra. This is because there is no law prescribing that payments on account must actually cover ancillary costs!

Can the landlord change the type of payment without reason?

No, this would be considered an amendment to the rental agreement, which can only be made in observance of certain deadlines and the provision of reasons. You can find more information on this in our fact sheet.

How and when do I receive the ancillary cost statement?

Normally, the statement must be issued within six months after the conclusion of the agreed statement period (normally from July to June). However, this must be no later than five years after expiration of the corresponding periods. After this time, the claim of the landlord to payment of the ancillary costs becomes time-barred and the landlord has to pay back the payments on account that have already been made.
We provide you with a detailed description of what the statement has to look like and explain how costs are distributed among several tenants in the fact sheet.

What can I do if I don't agree with the ancillary cost statement?

If you do not receive a statement, or are not permitted to see the documents, you can turn to the mediation authorities. You can also refuse to pay additional ancillary costs as long as no statement has been provided.

What happens if I don't pay the ancillary costs?

You received a statement and did not contest it. If you have not paid it, your landlord can terminate your rental agreement if you do not pay the costs after renewed request to do so and the threat of termination. 

We provide further details and many more explanations in the fact sheet.

Important documents
Merkblatt Nebenkosten