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Operating costs

Legal basis

  • Provisions of the German Civil Code (BGB)
  • Operating Costs Ordinance
  • Heating Costs Ordinance

§ Section 1 of the Operating Costs Ordinance (Betriebskostenverordnung): Operating costs are the costs incurred on an ongoing basis by the owner or heritable building right holder as a result of ownership of the property or heritable building right or as a result of the intended use of the building or economic unit, the ancillary buildings, installations, facilities and the land.

Which items belong to the operating costs?
According to the legal requirements, there are 17 types of operating costs:

  1. the current public charges of the property
  2. the cost of water supply
  3. the cost of drainage
  4. the costs of operating the central heating system, the operation of the central fuel supply system, the independent commercial supply of heat, the cleaning and maintenance of storey heating systems and individual gas fires
  5. the costs of operating the central hot water supply system, the independent commercial supply of hot water, the cleaning and maintenance of hot water appliances
  6. the costs of connected heating and hot water supply systems in the case of central heating systems, in the case of the independent commercial supply of heat, in the case of connected storey heating systems and hot water supply systems
  7. the costs of operating the passenger or goods lift
  8. the costs of street cleaning and waste disposal
  9. the costs of building cleaning and vermin control
  10. the costs of garden maintenance
  11. the cost of lighting
  12. the costs of chimney cleaning
  13. the costs of property and liability insurance
  14. the costs for the caretaker
  15. the costs of operating the community antenna system, the operation of the private distribution system connected to a broadband cable network
  16. the costs of operating the facilities for laundry care
  17. other operating costs (operating costs within the meaning of § 1 that are not covered by numbers 1 to 16)

How are the operating costs apportioned?

Three of them concern so-called "warm" operating costs. According to the provisions of the Heating Costs Ordinance, these must be apportioned in houses supplied by central heating and/or hot water systems according to a scale that takes into account the individual consumption of each tenant.

The remaining 14 cost types are so-called "cold" operating costs. In principle, these can or must be distributed according to the ratio of the living areas to each other within a building or business unit. An exception to this rule, however, are the cost types that allow for a settlement based on the individual consumption of each tenant, e.g. the costs of irrigation and drainage in case of existing measuring devices (cold and/or hot water meters) in the flats.

Price changes in the individual items result in the advance payments for operating and heating costs being continuously adjusted in connection with the operating costs statement. However, an increase in advance payments does not constitute a rent increase.

The SWG employees are endeavouring to counteract the price increases within the limits of their limited possibilities. SWG has no influence, for example, on the billing item property tax. The tax office carries out an appropriate assessment on the basis of existing financial laws. The assessment rate of the municipality is set by resolution of the city council. Both the valuation and the assessment rate are the basis for calculating the property tax. There is also no room for negotiation for the landlord or other beneficiaries in the case of chimney sweep fees. The fee level is set by the legislator in the sweeping and inspection fee regulations.

You, as a tenant, can also help to ensure economic efficiency, e.g. by sorting and separating waste. This can reduce the volume of residual waste containers and thus save costs. Likewise, time-consuming and expensive cleaning work for dirty outdoor facilities and staircases can be omitted if tenants pay more attention to their living environment.

In recent years, we have noticed that the maintenance of the borders is increasingly neglected and SWG has been forced to hire gardening companies to do the work. Costs could also be saved here if the tenants would do the maintenance work themselves.