Co-ownership of property and Austrian Condominium Act (Wohnungseigentumsgesetz)
When ownership of an apartment/Reihenhaus is shared between two people (whether spouses, domestic partners or any other persons) and one of the co-owners dies, the surviving co-owner has right to ownership of the other 50 per cent of the property (i.e. becomes the sole owner of the apartment/Reihenhaus) under certain conditions, as set out below.
The surviving co-owner of the apartment/Reihenhaus must pay 50 per cent of the value of the property to the heirs of the deceased partner unless the following conditions are met:
EITHER the surviving co-owner is a "forced heir" (=Pflichtteilsberechtigter) i.e. spouse or child
- has an urgent need to live in that apartment (= dringender Wohnbedarf)
- there are no other forced heirs (otherwise the surviving co-owner must pay them 25 per cent of the value of the property)
- the deceased co-owner had no debts (otherwise the surviving co-owner must pay 25 per cent of the value of the property)
OR the deceased co-owner leaves a will designating the surviving co-owner as the beneficiary and releasing him/her of any payment obligations. There is no exemption from debts, of course and also, children cannot be disinherited under Austrian law.
In cases where the two co-owners have signed a notarized agreement that, following the death of one of the co-owners, his/her property goes to another beneficiary, the beneficiary has to pay 50 per cent of the value of the property to the surviving co-owner unless the same conditions as above are met.
ADVICE TO CO-OWNERS OF APARTMENTS/REIHENHAUSER WHO ARE PARENTS OF MINORS
The lawyer who has provided advice to the Staff Council strongly recommends that co-owners of apartments /Reihenhauser who are parents of a child who is a minor prepare a will designating that child as the beneficiary rather than each other (i.e. the surviving spouse or partner). Since a minor ALWAYS has an urgent need to reside in the apartment /Reihenhaus, he/she would automatically become the owner of half the property and would not be required to pay anything.
If you need any further legal advice on this matter, contact the
Staff Union's office.
See relevant excerpts (in German) from the Austrian law