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Poland - Renting Property
If you wish to rent a property in Poland for the sole use of yourself or your family, tenancies will typically be available for either a short term (temporary) lease or long term lease. The latter may be anywhere from 6 months to many years. Most tenancies will last between six months and a year. Make sure a termination clause is in the agreement before you sign, in case you need to return to your home country earlier than expected for whatever reason.
For those who like to live in buildings with character and high ceilings (up to 3.5m), a ‘Kamienica’ may be a good choice. There will be several apartments within the building, but it will not be a large development. The cost will depend on the location and condition of the building, and they can be an affordable choice for those on a budget. However, the cost of heating will be higher because the high ceilings and construction (including poorer insulation) means the heat easily leaks out. Winters are long and cold so the potential size of the heating bills should not be ignored.
The apartment blocks known as a ‘blok’ are more modern. The developments can vary in size.
The most expensive apartments available are those with additional facilities provided within the development. Typically provided are on-site security staff or monitored CCTV cameras, secure parking, and possible leisure facilities such as a gym or a swimming pool.
Most apartments for rent in Poland are fully furnished, sometimes with a washing machine and a TV included. When visiting, it is acceptable to ensure appliances work and to inspect the crockery that is to be available for your use. If the property is not connected to the internet, it will take 7-20 days to complete an installation. Check the condition of the windows, which will need to withstand long, cold winters. Establish whether the property is connected to electric heating systems or not, because these are more expensive to run.
Apartments will normally have administrative or management charges in addition to the advertised rent. These can be anywhere from 100 PLN to 700 PLN a month. Sometimes these charges may include some or all utility bills (heating, water, electricity and internet charges) and sometimes they do not. It is up to you to ask if these charges exist, and to make sure that the tenancy agreement specifies the amount and purpose of the charges. Be aware that these additional costs exist, because you will see properties advertised at the basic rental cost and if you base your budget on these figures alone then you may be looking at homes you cannot afford.
Finding properties available to rent via the internet is easy. There are websites available in English, which include listings and photographs. These include Rent Flat Poland, Property Krakow, and Property Warsaw. If your new employer is arranging your accommodation but you have to pay for it, these sites will provide a good check that you are not being overcharged.
There are many estate agencies across Poland; many of them will have staff who are very good or fluent English speakers. If you are seeking a tenancy via an estate agent, you will receive help in locating available properties in an area convenient to your needs and within your budget. The estate agent will negotiate with the landlord on your behalf, and talk you through the rental process.
Some estate agents offering properties for rent may also be engaged by the landlord as managers of the property. This means that should anything go wrong with the property, your enquiries and dealings will all be with the estate agent who acts in a professional capacity.
Since 1st January 2014 the estate agency profession has been fully deregulated in Poland; they do not have to be registered but must have professional liability insurance. This means anyone who has purchased the insurance can practice as an estate agent. Make sure that you see the insurance certificate as this will be your only protection if anything goes wrong. If you are already working in Poland your colleagues may be able to recommend local agencies which their friends and relatives have used. If you have yet to arrive then advice may be found in an internet forum, but do be aware that someone may be recommending an agency they run.
When viewing properties, be careful not to pay cash for anything. No fee should be charged to view a property, and do not agree to a tenancy if you have had problems with viewing access. A security deposit equivalent to the first month’s rent is normal, but this must be made by a traceable bank account transaction which, in the event of any dispute later, confirms the fact and the amount of your payment. This also applies to all your payments once you have moved in. Rent, administration and management costs, utility payments must all be made via your bank account and never in cash.
Normally you will not be asked to provide evidence of your work contract or income when agreeing to rent an apartment. You are taking on the legal responsibility to make payment, so it will be left to you to organise your finances accordingly.
The tenancy agreement will be in Polish. You may be given an English translation, but it is advisable to ask a friend or colleague to check the translation accurately reflects the conditions in the agreement before you sign. If you move in without a tenancy agreement, you may be charged unexpected fees against which you have little legal protection.
The tenancy agreement should contain, as a minimum:
• Details of the property to be leased
• Landlord’s details
• Tenant’s details
• Contract start date and end date
• Conditions under which the contract can be terminated
• The rent - including amount and date
• Other costs - including amount and date
• The Security Deposit required and when it will be returned
• The Inventory listing every item in the property
• The water and gas meter readings
When you sign the contract, you should provide your passport as ID. Polish residents are required to provide their PESEL, which is the Polish National Identification Number, but foreigners who don’t have one must leave the number blank.
When you move in, make sure you check everything is on the inventory and is in working condition. Take photographs of anything that is not in perfect condition, in case you are later asked to pay for something to be replaced.
Signing up to the electricity, gas and water companies is often a cumbersome affair for which you must have your paperwork in order.
If you get into dispute about repairs in the property, or other issues, make sure you follow due process via an estate agent or in writing to the landlord. If you lose your job, discuss this with the landlord and come to an agreement (in writing) about what to do. You cannot just decide to stop paying the rent. However, the landlord must also follow due process with tenants. They are not allowed to enter a property without a court’s consent if the tenant is not there, although they do have the right of inspection or right to undertake repairs with adequate notice of 48 hours. The landlord must not confiscate the tenant’s possessions until twelve months after the rent was last paid.
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