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Why tenants in Germany could face higher costs for cable TV this year

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
Why tenants in Germany could face higher costs for cable TV this year
A man changes the channel on a TV set at home. Photo: Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

A special clause allowing German landlords to pass on cable TV costs to their tenants is set to expire this year - but that's not necessarily good news for renters.

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Whether you watch most of your favourite shows on your laptop at home or through a television set, chances are you could have being paying for cable TV without even realising it.

That's because, since the 1980s, landlords in Germany have been able to set up agreements with telecom companies to supply a cable network to an entire building and then charge their tenants via the Nebenkosten, or additional costs.

With the law that permits this expiring on June 1st, 2024, however, some renters could find themselves potentially paying more.

Why would cable get more expensive? 

With these collective contracts for cable getting phased out, people who still want that type of TV connection will need to take matters into their own hands.

But since landlords are generally able to negotiate better deals for a full building or set of apartments, these single-household contracts are likely to cost at least a couple of euros extra per month.

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Currently, most tenants pay around €7-9 per month on average for a Vodafone cable connection as part of their additional rental costs. For an individual agreement, this could go up to around €13. 

READ ALSO: Moving house in Germany - 7 things you need to know about setting up utility contracts

Who could benefit from the change?

Of course, for people who aren't interested in getting their TV via a cable connection, the change could be good news. 

Industry experts assume that many people will decide to make the switch to alternatives like satellite TV, which can easily set up on a roof or balcony. "One thing is clear: there will be a move away from cable - and TV reception via satellite will benefit from this," Frank Lilie from satellite TV provider Astra told Tagesschau. 

Satellites on a balcony in Cologne, North-Rhine Westphalia.

Satellites on a balcony in Cologne, North-Rhine Westphalia. Satellites can be an affordable alternative to cable. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Henning Kaiser

Alternatively, people could decide to turn their back on traditional telecoms entirely and simply rely on streaming services on the internet. Around one in five households in Germany already uses the Internet for watching TV rather than using a cable or satellite connection - and this figure has doubled in the past five years. 

For telecom companies like Vodafone and Tele Columbus who offer cable, the impact of the change could be a lot more sobering. Vodafone, for example, could be set to lose many of its 13 million cable customers overnight if new contracts aren't set up on a one-to-one basis. 

That said, many of these companies say they are confident they can find ways for customers to keep their existing connections in spite of the change in legislation.

Do I need to do anything before June? 

Not necessarily - it all depends on what your landlord decides. It could be that they keep their existing agreements in place but find a different way to charge tenants such as a special opt-in/opt-out clause in the rental contract.

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Another route would be for providers to offer special deals for renters in an apartment block but ensure that the tenants pay directly to them, rather than the landlord. Vodafone currently offers an option like this for certain tenants whose landlords previously paid for cable collectively, which they're branding "TV Connect Start".

READ ALSO: How Germany is making it easier for consumers to cancel contracts

If neither of these options are available and you still want a cable connection, you will have to set up a new contract with a provider of your choice - though double-check with your landlord what their plans are before you do.

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