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‘Nachzahlung’: What are the rules around additional housing costs in Germany?

Paul Krantz
Paul Krantz - [email protected]
‘Nachzahlung’: What are the rules around additional housing costs in Germany?
If the utility bill is too late, landlords can no longer assert claims. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Florian Schuh

In Germany, if a utility bill is delivered too late, tenants don’t have to pay it. The Local takes a look at ancillary costs and when ‘additional payments’ can be collected.

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The German word Nachzahlung means an additional payment or back-payment.

You may owe Nachzahlungen for certain utilities, or other maintenance fees, often called ancillary costs, in your apartment building. 

Since bills for energy or fuel use are calculated annually in Germany based on estimates of usage and market prices, back-payments are not uncommon, especially in times when prices are volatile – as they have been recently.

However, there is a limitation on the time in which these types of back-payments can be collected.

How late can back-payments for housing fees be collected?

Typically landlords have one year from the last day of a billing period to request a back payment from their tenants. So bills for additional costs accrued during 2023, for example, could be delivered up until December 2024.

If that time frame has passed, you can reject the claim in writing. You can find samples of similar letters for dispute resolution from the European Consumer Centre Germany (EVZ).

Also, if you have questions about the cost, the EVZ points out that you are entitled to a detailed breakdown of utility expenses: “This breakdown must be prepared at least once a year, in a way that is easy to understand for the tenant. It must contain a complete list of the costs, the calculation of the costs and the charges that have already been paid.”

READ ALSO: Six confusing things about renting a flat in Germany

What if the bills are incorrect?

Ancillary costs come on top of the basic rent of an apartment, and commonly include items like water, street cleaning or waste disposal bills. They may also include landscaping fees, or cleaning and maintenance fees for the interior of the building.


At least one ancillary cost – fees for cable TV – is set to be eliminated this year, as a regulation that allowed landlords to bundle these fees will no longer apply after July 1st, 2024.

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

The German Tenants Association found that tenants paid an average of €2.28 per month for additional costs per square metre in 2022. This amounts to an annual cost of nearly €3,000 for an 80 square metre apartment. 

But these costs also vary widely from region to region, and even between different apartment buildings on the same street.

According to reporting by Tagesschau, consumer advocates suggest that roughly half of utility bills are incorrect, mostly due to administrative errors or miscalculations.

To take action against an incorrect bill, you should launch the dispute within a year and should be able to back up any claims you make. For help with this, you may want to seek support from the Consumer Advice Center (Verbraucherzentrale) or the Tenant’s Association (Deutscher Meiterbund).


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