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Renting Property

Czech Republic - Renting Property

Renting a property in the Czech Republic can be an excellent way to acclimatize yourself to your new home. For many, the cost of property purchases combined with low wages means renting is the only realistic option.

There is a huge array of rental property available which will suit all household units and budgets. You can choose from flats in vibrant city centers to family homes in the countryside. Properties can be fully furnished, meaning you move into a ready-made home, or you can pay less to rent an unfurnished property.

Many people choose to find a property without the services of an estate agent in the Czech Republic. Landlords advertise their properties in local newspapers as well as on both business and property listing websites. Do not pay a reservation fee or pay anyone claiming to work for the landlord. Cash should never form part of the rental process.

Local estate agencies also operate throughout the Czech Republic. Anyone can set up an agency and work in one. No training, qualifications or associate membership is mandatory. However, the estate agent will be doing more than showing you available properties. They will be overseeing your contract, liaising with the landlord when repairs are needed, and should be there as a source of help if you run into problems with the landlord. As a new tenant, you will be paying them for their services. Try to find an agent who has been personally recommended by someone you trust.

It common to advertise accommodation using the number of habitable rooms plus kitchen facilities. So, 3+1 means three habitable rooms and a kitchen, while 2+kk means two habitable rooms plus a kitchenette.

When the letting is agreed and the contract is signed, the estate agent will invoice you for their up-front fee. This normally be one to one and a half times the monthly rent. You should have received notification of the fee before you agreed to take on one of their properties.

In the event that someone else has agreed to pay the estate agent’s fee, such as your employer, get that agreement in writing, along with any key conditions. Should you leave the employer within a short time and be asked to make repayment, or the employer later says they never agreed to pay the estate agent’s fee, the legal protection of a written agreement will be invaluable.

If you want to check the ownership of a property that you are thinking of renting, you can find this on the real estate register or katastr nemovitostí.

Although this website is in Czech, it is a useful resource. It will help you identify situations where ownership is different to what you have been told, or where multiple people own the same address. In these cases, withdraw from the process and do not sign a tenancy agreement, even (perhaps especially) if the rent was a bargain.

There are laws to protect tenants and landlords. For the protection of all parties, a written contract should be produced, setting out conditions that everyone agrees to. All parties should then sign the contract.

The contract will normally be written in Czech. Do not take assurances from the estate agent, landlord or any other intermediary that the contract is standard and contains normal rental terms. Ask someone you trust who speaks Czech to read it to you and explain anything you are unsure about. If you have to go to court at a later date, the signed contract confirms your agreement to all the clauses, regardless of what you did or did not understand within it.

Tenancies can be arranged for six months, but this will often be more expensive than a longer term let. If you definitely want to stay longer, be wary of verbal assurances that the contract can be renewed. Some landlords are honest, but if an estate agent or landlord lies to get you to sign, knowing that the tenancy must end in six months, there is nothing you can do about it. You will then have the hassle of moving again, as well as facing more costs, possibly including another estate agency fee.

Most tenancies are offered for a period of one to two years, and you will need to hold a residency permit before you sign the lease.

As an expat, you should ask for a break clause to be placed in the contract. Think twice if the landlord is unwilling to accept this. Legally, you can only end the contract early if there is a break clause or if you have met some very specific conditions. These involve sudden and unavoidable events such as being made unemployed. If you have had any control over the circumstances, such as resigning from work, obtaining a dog or deciding to relocate back to your home country for whatever reason, then you will have to pay the rent for a full three months after you have given notice to leave. The three months start on the first of the month after you have given written notice.

At the end of the tenancy agreement, if you and the landlord decide to continue, then make sure you both sign a new contract. Some landlords agree to continue the arrangement verbally, just to return a few months later with the news that you must leave the following week. Dishonest landlords may also suddenly increase the rent by a significant amount, or even retrospectively impose the new increased rent. Without a written contract to fall back on, you will find legal protection weak and expensive to access. With a written contract, the landlord knows that any amendment to the terms will be rejected by a court. With a verbal contract, it will come down to who the court believes.

You will be asked to pay a security deposit when you sign the contract. This will be at least equivalent to a month’s rent. To get it back, you will need to leave the flat in the same condition you found it and be up to date with your rent payments. To ensure there are no problems with the deposit, make sure you and the landlord have photographs of the property on the day you move in and the day you leave. There is a standard handover document that is agreed at the end, where the landlord agrees in writing that the condition of the property is acceptable, so your comparable photographs are essential at this time to resolve any disputes.

In addition to the estate agent’s fees and the security deposit, the first month’s rent will also be paid when the tenancy agreement is signed.

Occasionally, utility bills are paid by the landlord. If this is the case, this will be included in the tenancy agreement. If something has not been included in your tenancy agreement, you cannot later argue that it is the landlord’s responsibility to pay it. Most tenants will pay the utility bills themselves. How many people live in a property affects the amount that will be charged for utilities, so be aware how many people lived there previously.

You can contract with the utility provider directly. If you set up a SIPO account at the post office, you can have the utility bills paid in equal monthly installments, which helps budgeting. Alternatively, you can ask the landlord to remain the utilities account holder. You will then pay the landlord a monthly amount, and at the end of a set period (at least once a year) you will pay any additional amounts due, or the landlord will give you a refund. The landlord should keep all utility bills and be able to produce them on request. Make all payments to the landlord by bank transfer, so that you are able to produce evidence of them should any dispute occur.

During your tenancy, you will be personally responsible for all minor repairs needed while you are living in the rented property. You have a legal obligation to complete them before you vacate the property at the end of the lease.

Minor repairs include marks on the wall, flooring and ceilings. For many tenants this may mean painting the property before you leave. Other repairs may include the sewer and plumbing systems, heating and hot water systems, and electrical points such as the doorbell, lights and electrical switches. Electrical appliances are also covered by these rules, so if a fridge goes wrong you will have to repair or replace it. There is a ceiling limit for the year, based on 100 CZK per metre squared (including any ancillary areas such as a cellar or balcony); after that limit is reached, any further repairs during that year will become the responsibility of the landlord.

You will normally be allowed to sublet the property or to move relatives in, unless the contract specifically excludes this. Given the degree to which you are financially responsible for the condition of the property and its contents, you need to choose your room-mates carefully.

You may be able to repaint the walls another colour if you wish. However, check with your landlord and bear in mind that when you leave, they must be repainted to the same colour as they were originally.

If you wish to end your contract early, you will need to give three months’ notice. An email will not be accepted as a legally enforceable notice. You are strongly advised to send a letter by registered post, and to keep the evidence that it was sent. The three months’ notice will start on the 1st of the month following your written letter.

The landlord cannot normally give you notice to leave before the contract expires. There are some specific circumstances, such as the landlord needing the property to house his or her dependent family, or if you have violated terms of the lease. In these cases, the landlord must give you three months’ written notice that you are to leave the property. If you are in rent arrears of more than three months’ rent, then the landlord only has to give you written notice of one month to leave.

On the day you leave the property, you should be present when the landlord makes a visit. Both of you should take photographs and discuss any outstanding repair works. If the landlord is happy that you are leaving the property in an acceptable condition, then they will give you a handover form confirming this. If they do not offer one, insist on receiving it.

There is no statutory timeframe within which a landlord must return the security deposit. However, after three months of asking for it to be sent, it would be reasonable to start legal action. If you have the handover form, the landlord will not be able to argue that they are holding the money for repairs.

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