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Renting Property

Croatia - Renting Property

The standard of rented accommodation in Croatia is generally very good, meaning there will be few home comforts you will miss. However, it will come at a price, so you may need to plan carefully for the longer term.

Holiday Lets

Rental accommodation is a serious investment for any owner, Croatian or expat. With the average domestic monthly net salary at 700 euros, the best way to capitalise on property assets is to rent them to migrants or holiday makers during the summer.

In addition, Croatia has one of the highest home ownerships rates in the EU. Just over 10 percent of the population live in rented accommodation, compared to the EU average of almost 30 percent.

As a result, your choice of rental property with be fairly limited. There are no rent controls in place, so landlords charge whatever the market will bear. There will be little room for negotiating a bargain unless you just need somewhere for October to April, in which case you will have your pick of empty holiday homes and can suggest a figure a landlord may be happy to take rather than leaving the property empty until May.

Consider Sharing A Home

If you need somewhere to live during the summer months, you may find your best option is to share a home with someone else. This could be another tenant, so that at least two or three of you are able to share the rent and other costs. Alternatively, investigate renting a room in someone’s family home. Sometimes families offer this arrangement on websites such as HomeStay.com and others may be suggested by a friend or colleague.

The difficulty with these arrangements is that you have to be able to live with your co-tenants or host family without being irritated by them, plus you will have to observe both specified and unwritten house rules at all times. That said, if you get on with the people you live with, this can work out really well and mean you have friends in your new home.

Using An Estate Agent

If you know where you would like to live, especially if you are heading for a city, estate agents are a good place to start looking for a rental home. The website Rent In Zagreb, for example, states that the agency has rented properties to individuals, embassies and companies for more than five years. They even run ‘expat Thursday nights’ to help new expats socialise with others who are in the same position.

Licensed real estate agents will be registered with the Croatian chamber of commerce. You can therefore check that the registration number is genuine and you are dealing with a bona fide company. Within the registration will be a requirement that staff are fully trained and have an appropriate level of qualifications.

On the downside, you will be expected to pay the agent a fee when they have secured a rental property for you. However, this will be the easiest way to assess what’s available on the market, plus your agent will give you a helping hand with understanding how things work. Those agencies geared up towards international customers will have staff who speak good English, which saves awkward moments of trying to negotiate a lease with a landlord who only speaks Croatian.

Never Pay In Cash

Regardless of whether you are renting via a real estate agent, through the recommendation of a friend or colleague, or in response to an advert, never pay in cash.

Make sure you see the property before you decide to rent it, and only pay the first month’s rent and the security deposit on the same day after each party signs the contract.

The funds should be transferred bank to bank, so there is a clear audit trail. Every landlord and real estate agent is required to have a business bank account, known as a ziro bank account, completely separate to the one used for personal banking.

You must agree to everything included in the contract, so either sign a copy written in English, or ask an independent person who is fluent in Croatian to talk it through with you. Once the contract is signed, you are legally bound by its terms and conditions regardless of what you did or did not understand.

Each monthly rent payment should also be made via a bank to bank transfer.

On the day you move in, take a lot of photographs. If something is damaged or missing, contact the estate agent or landlord, and use photographs as evidence of your observation. If you don’t think it’s important enough to need fixing or replacement, that’s fine as long as you don’t get charged for it when your security deposit is being returned.

Early Break Clause

The tenancy agreement will specify how long your contract is in place for. Expats have a higher than average risk of something happening that requires them to leave earlier. It could be the new job doesn’t work out, a family member gets sick or dies, or the expat has trouble settling into their new home.

To avoid having to pay the rent for the full period of the tenancy, you can invoke a break clause if you had one included in the original contract. Many landlords and tenants are happy with a three-month clause as it is better to pay rent for the next three months than for the rest of the contract.

Do not think it is possible just to pack up and leave the country. Landlords insist on at least a month’s rent in advance and the security deposit is usually the equivalent of a further month’s rent. Even so, the landlord will still be entitled to take the matter to court if you break your contract. The legal proceedings can then be charged against you, meaning the bills mount up.

If you stop paying the rent the landlord can apply for an eviction order.

Renewing Your Tenancy

If your contract was for a specific amount of time and you want to stay longer, make sure all terms and conditions for the new period are agreed in a signed contract. If you just accept the landlord’s word that it’s fine to carry on, you will be powerless to prevent a sudden hike in rental charges or stop a termination of tenancy coming out of the blue.

Don’t Forget To Budget

With all the hard work focused on getting a place to live, it’s easy to forget the ongoing costs. In a new country everything is different, so it can be hard to work out what is reasonable or expensive.

Your priority must be to keep a roof over your head and pay the essential bills. Once that is done, and you have a small rainy-day fund to make sure next month’s rent is covered, you can then spend your hard-earned cash by going out and about, and enjoying everything your new home has to offer.

Read more about this country

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