Renting an apartment is a challenge that all foreigners who want to live in Poland for a longer period are struggling. Igor Bogusz explained how to facilitate the process of finding and renting a flat on behalf of the Foundation Ukraine. Read the advice of a real estate professional in the article.
Each of us has rented an apartment at least once, but not all of us have a positive experience. It is known that we all learn from mistakes, but in this case, mistakes might be extremely costly, resulting primarily from haste and lack of knowledge. As a person who signed many lease agreements and have a lot of experience in the real estate industry, Igor Bogush will share with you what to look for in order to protect yourself from the negative consequences of renting a property.
Let’s start searching
Large cities such as Kraków, Gdańsk and Wrocław have many offers of apartments for rent. Such offers can be found on portals such as Olx, Otodom, Morizon, Gratka. More and more often, foreigners visit special thematic groups on Facebook or “market place”, on which there are many advertisements.
To save time looking for an ideal apartment, you need to understand that there are no perfect apartments. So to make the process of looking easier and faster, it’s better:
- to specify the location (e.g. Up to 5 km from the university)
- to estimate a maximum rental budget (e.g. Up to PLN 2600 with parking, internet, media)
- to choose a layout of the apartment (e.g. 2 separate rooms with separate kitchen and balcony)
Before you make a call to the number given in the announcement, carefully read the description and take a look at the photos, and write down on a piece of paper what information is missing in the advertisement.
Also plan the presentations to use your time efficiently. Presentations usually take from 15 to 30 minutes. Take into account traffic jams to not be late.
For visual learners, I recommend recording a video during the presentation in order to calmly, without emotions, compare all apartments at the end.
If you have already found an apartment – do not hesitate! Especially during the “student” period, which is from August to October. During this period, people reserve flats by phone, even without seeing them.
What is worth to know about the lease agreement?
Despite the fact that every year Poland attracts more and more foreigners, many landlords prefer to rent out to the countrymen. Mainly because there may be a language barrier, or because the tenant will move out of the country and the owner will lose contact with it. In order to avoid conflicts between the landlord and the tenant, great attention must be paid to the lease agreement. A well-prepared lease agreement should anticipate all possible situations and include a way to resolve them. Fortunately, most problems can be avoided by following the rules listed below.
- Check that the owner is the owner – not everyone who has the keys to the apartment has the right to sign a lease agreement. Check the mortgage register number of the real estate, if it is possible or ask for inspection one of the documents listed below:– title deed (purchase contract, donation, etc.)
– power of attorney from the owner
– lease agreement with the consent of the owner for sublet, i.e. further lease to third parties
- Form of the lease agreement – Polish law provides for the conclusion of contracts in writing and orally. However, the written form of the contract is always a document that can always be consulted in disputed situations. In particular, for foreigners who do not speak Polish, there should be a bilingual contract to ensure that each point in the contract is understandable.
- Contract period – owners more and more often prefer to sign contracts from date to date without notice period. For the tenant, it means that if he wants to move out earlier, he has to pay until the end of the contract or terminate the contract in a friendly manner (e.g. find a tenant for his place). In the case of a contract for an indefinite period with one month’s notice, the termination is effective at the end of the month. For example, if you terminate the contract on January 1, you can move out only on March 1.
- Registration of temporary residence for foreigners – Often the tenant asks the owner if he can register residence, but not all agree to it. In fact, the tenant does not have to ask about it when having a lease agreement, and the owner’s doubts result from lack of knowledge. According to Art. 28 of the Population Register Act, “registration for permanent or temporary residence serves only registration purposes and is aimed at confirming the fact of a person’s stay in the place where he / she registered”. It is important to include all tenants in the lease agreement so that each of them can get a registration of residence.
- Settlement of the deposit – The deposit is not the rent for the last month. This is a returnable amount, in accordance with the Civil Code, up to 30 days after the end of the lease. The landlord has the right to charge a deposit if the wear and tear of the apartment exceeds normal (e.g. scratched walls) or the service charges exceed the advance payments.
- Tenant’s civil liability – in addition to the standard owner insurance, it is worth opting for tenant’s civil liability. The tenant’s civil liability insurance protects the person renting his apartment against damage caused by the tenant of the apartment (his guests, children or animals). The insurance should also protect against possible burglary. The cost of such insurance is only about PLN 55 per year.
- Agreement in the form of an occasional lease – Often, even in the text of the advertisement you can find “occasional lease agreement”. This is a new type of contract that does not apply to paragraph on the protection of tenants’ rights, which aims to protect the owner from dishonest tenants. However, for foreigners, the use of this form of contract by the owner may be a significant obstacle. In 90% of cases, foreign tenants are not able to identify alternative premises in Poland to which they could move in the event of eviction. The only way out is to convince the owner to sign a regular contract.
Handover of the apartment
After signing the contract – time to collect the keys to your dream apartment. This is the last but not least step in this complicated process. The protocol is always associated with the signing of the delivery and acceptance protocol, which will include:
– home equipment (e.g. furniture, household appliances)
– meter state (electricity, water, gas)
– how many sets of keys are collected by the tenant
– comments on the technical condition of the flat (e.g. TV is not working)
When renting by a real estate agency, the agent additionally takes photos of the current condition of the apartment and faults, and sends it to each party of the contract. This is evidence for both parties when returning the property to the owner.
From the moment of signing the lease agreement, each party bears civil and legal liability, so it is better to agree all the details before signing. If you have doubts about the provisions in the contract, you can always contact the real estate agency or lawyer. To make sure that the person giving the consultation has the required qualifications, see
– whether the company is registered in the National Court Register
– how long has it been operating on the market
– whether it has certificates, licenses
– whether it has positive reviews on Google or Facebook
All the points written in the lease agreement are intended to protect the parties from black scenarios, but it is always worth finding compromises first and resolving disputable situations in a friendly manner and building mutual relations on trust. We wish you good luck in renting an apartment and we invite you to contact the specialists of the Foundation Ukraine if some help will be needed.
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