Utilities increase Rental housing companies in Bonn try to prepare tenants
Bonn · In the coming year, many tenants will face a hefty utility bill in Bonn, too. So that the shock is not too big when the new year comes, rental housing associations are advising to already increase the payments due for utilities.
Like many other living costs, utility costs for apartments are on the rise. According to a survey by energy service provider Ista, around 80 percent of tenants are worried that they will face a high utility bill in 2023.
The concern seems justified, as major housing companies in Bonn will pass on the increased costs to tenants over the next few years. "In September 2022, we wrote to our tenants whose apartments are connected to a central heating system and recommended that they increase their advance heating cost payment on a voluntary basis," said Norbert Krey of Vereinigte Bonner Wohnungsbau AG (Vebowag).
Vonovia backs down with termination threat
Vonovia, which manages 4,600 residential units in Bonn, published a document for an Investor Day last week. It showed that the Bochum-based group would terminate tenants when necessary if they did not pay their utility costs. The document said, "Last resort: sending eviction notice." In the document, Vonovia cited two months' rent as the threshold for an eviction action. In the meantime, Vonovia CEO Rolf Buch has backpedaled: "With us, no one will lose an apartment just because they can't pay the heating costs.”
Vonovia's press office confirmed this statement to the GA upon inquiry: "We want our tenants to stay with us for a long time," says spokesman Matthias Wulff. "All tenants can adjust the advance payment themselves at any time," Wulff said. Vonovia expects costs for tenants to rise sharply. "Vonovia is adjusting the advance heating cost payment so that tenants are not burdened with an excessive wave of additional payments," Wulff said.
Housing companies want to talk to tenants
Other housing companies in Bonn are dealing with the situation in a similar way. "As we did during the coronavirus pandemic, we will try to avoid terminations due to late payments as much as possible during the energy crisis. As a rule, we contact the affected tenants as quickly as possible and then almost always also find a mutually agreeable arrangement," said Krey of Vebowag, which has more than 6,500 apartments in Bonn.
The Landesentwicklungsgesellschaft (LEG), which is a German property company, manages around 2,300 housing units in Bonn. It, too is showing solidarity with its tenants: "Together, we will make it through this energy crisis and find a solution so that no one has to lose their apartment because of it," says press spokesman Mischa Lenz. However, LEG also recommends that tenants make financial preparations.
GWG has already increased advance payments
The Bonn non-profit housing cooperative (Gemeinnützige Wohnungsgenossenschaft Bonn, GWG) has increased its advance payments for utility costs within the legally permissible limits. But it recommends that tenants increase their advance heating cost payments even further on a voluntary basis. The current advance payment is still not sufficient: "The lawmakers have missed an urgently needed adjustment of the tenancy law here," said Anja Lorenz from GWG. "It is impossible to make reliable statements or plan due to the unclear and almost daily changing legal situation or implementation of the announcements," said Lorenz.
Housing companies try to reduce energy costs
Many housing associations in Bonn are trying to reduce energy costs for their tenants. "We lower the preset heating temperature to 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 F) between 11 p.m. and five a.m.," said Thomas Schwarzenbacher, managing director of residential management at Sahle Wohnen. Vonovia lowers the temperature to 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 F) from 11 p.m. to six in the morning. Besides the temperature changes, the companies are optimizing the technical systems.
Orig. text: Andreas Dieckhoff