The abolition of contract fees for residential leases was enacted a few days before the parliamentary elections. Since 11 November 2017, it has been illegal to charge a fee for rental contracts. This change in the law was justified with social considerations, especially as lease fees are most often paid by tenants who are already heavily burdened by the growth in property prices over the last few years. For landlords and property management companies, this change is an administrative simplification, as without a fee there is no need to notify and pay the tax office.

From the point of view of the economy, it is to be hoped that the legislative change represents only the first step in a general debate on contract fees. The obligation to pay fees according to the Fees Act applies only to specific types of contracts and is tied to written contract conclusions. Contracts concluded by email, for example, are also subject to a fee. In practice, people keep looking for alternatives, for example by concluding the contract abroad or by sending offers that can be accepted via payment.

In fact, the obligation to pay fees often leads to legal circumvention, which reduces state revenue and can cause potential problems with the subsequent traceability of (non-written) contract conclusions. It would therefore be useful to take a critical look at the Fees Law, which dates back to the time of Maria Theresa.

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