Renters warned to expect "price shock" in 2023 utility bill statement
Since Germany is still largely a nation of renters, most people won’t feel the effects of the recent dramatic rises in the price of energy until next year, when they receive their annual utility bill statement (Nebenkostenabrechnung) - and experts are warning that many tenants could be in for a shock.
Renters in Germany in for an energy bill shock next year
When renting in Germany, it is standard to pay only a fixed cost towards bills for gas and electricity, water and taxes each month, which is then offset against your actual usage at the end of the year in an annual statement (Nebenkostenabrechnung). Since the biggest price increases happened at the beginning of this year, most tenants will only feel the impact next year, when their 2022 statement is issued.
Consumer advocates are therefore warning that the sudden increase could hit tenants unprepared. “The price hit will come to consumers next year,” said energy expert Udo Sieverding from the consumer centre in North Rhine-Westphalia, in an interview with the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. He added that the increases have so far been comparatively moderate.
The largest housing group in Germany, Vonovia, has said that it expects a significant number of tenants to struggle with their utility bills in 2023 due to the sharp rise in energy prices. CEO Rolf Buch said he was “extremely worried” about the bills due in 2023.
While he recommended that tenants adjust their monthly advance payments as soon as possible to avoid a shock next year, he added that the current situation was stretching certain population groups - specifically families, pensioners, single parents and young professionals - to breaking point. “I am convinced that the price increases will not be sustainable for many households without further governmental support,” he said.
Household energy costs up 80 percent in March 2022
Last month, the federal government put together a relief package to help consumers struggling with energy bills, which contained measures like a one-off 300-euro payment to all taxpayers, tax cuts on fuel, and extra support for people receiving housing benefit.
However, these sums are dwarfed by the projected increases in energy bills this year. According to a recent study by the comparison portal Check24, the annual energy costs for an average household rose to 7.292 euros in March 2022, 80 percent more than in the same month last year. “Energy costs have been steadily rising since 2020 and have really exploded since the end of 2021,” managing director Steffen Suttner told tagesschau.de.