North Rhine-Westphalia has highest ancillary costs in Germany
Renting or buying a house doesn’t just stop with the mortgage or rent; there are plenty of other costs that homeowners have to pay every month. A new study has revealed where in Germany these ancillary costs are the highest, and where they are cheapest.
Additional housing costs in Germany
A new study has determined what ancillary housing costs people in Germany have to pay in the 100 largest cities across the country. These additional costs, known as Nebenkosten in German, constitute fees and taxes for things like waste collection, sewage disposal and property tax. The study was undertaken by the research company IW Consult on behalf of Haus und Grund, the largest property owners’ association in Germany.
The study revealed that the amount of extra costs differs significantly around the country, as fees are regulated inconsistently. In Leverkusen, for example, ancillary housing costs amount to around 2.046 euros a year, whereas in Regensburg - the cheapest city included in the study - tenants pay just 915 euros. The study could not determine any structural or geographical reasons for the large differences in costs, with fees not being dependant on factors such as the size or population density of the city.
Leverkusen is not the only expensive city in North Rhine-Westphalia either; in fact, eight out of the 10 most expensive municipalities were located in the western state. The 10 cheapest areas can be found in Bavaria, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. "Our impression is that the federal states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, in particular, are doing well, that they set the fees with a sense of proportion, that they are in close contact with the citizens and that they are interested in a high level of citizen satisfaction," said the head of the study, Hanno Kempermann.
Ancillary costs on the rise in Germany
The study highlighted a trend of rising ancillary costs across the country. Only 22 cities included in the study were able to reduce their costs for sewage and water disposal, as well as reducing property tax, since the last ranking three years ago: Bonn (-120 euros), Nuremberg (-67 euros) and Düsseldorf (-53 euros). On the other hand, the cities of Offenbach, Mülheim and Gelsenkirchen experienced the biggest increases.
Ancillary costs for municipalities in the Ruhr area are also on the rise, but this is because of an emergency budget that makes it necessary to increase fees.
German housing study draws criticism
The authors of the study took the numbers for their study from publicly visible fee schedules in the different municipalities. The authors used hypothetical fees when certain services were not offered. However, this has drawn criticism from the Association of Local Public Utilities (VKU), among others, who claim that comparing fees is akin to comparing “apples and pears.”
"The amount of the fees for wastewater and waste differs from region to region because they take into account different services, locations and general on-site conditions," said a spokesperson for the VKU. "The density and number of recycling centres also play a role." Likewise, the infrastructure for wastewater is "custom-made for generations, therefore, simple comparisons do not work and cannot create transparency for consumers."
However, the president of Haus and Grund has rejected the criticism: "The excuses are colourful, but they have never been valid in the past few years," he said. He explained that Regensburg has significantly lower fees than Potsdam, yet is behind Potsdam when it comes to sewage disposal.