Renting an apartment in a foreign country can be a risky business, Poland is no exception. So you think you found a perfect place because the living standard meets your expectations, or maybe it is located close to your work or university, it’s got the most amazing view or is extremely cheap. Great, you love it, right? Show me where to sign.
Well, here is the thing. There are a few of formalities you might want to think about before you make a decision to move in so that you won’t regret it later.
1. Understand the agreement, even if you don’t know Polish
If you don’t understand Polish enough to read the entire contract, we strongly recommend you ask your landlord for an English copy. If for any reason they cannot provide it, get a Polish speaking person to go over it for you. There might be some obscure obligations in there or missing something very important.
2. Consider additional costs outside the rent
In Poland it’s usual that when you rent an apartment you are expected to pay fees for:
- Gas & Electricity
- Waste disposal
- Maintenance of building and common areas
- TV & Internet
Make sure that you know all of these costs before you agree to renting.
Watch out: In older apartments, it’s common to find electric heating. This tends to cost the earth to run during the colder months. It’s highly advised to find out what the average heating costs are during the colder months. Maybe even ask for copies of previous bills to give you a rough idea. In some cases we know that the electricity bill can triple during winter!
Last but not least, almost all the time you will be asked for a deposit, usually the same amount as 1 month’s rent.
3. Find out about the period of lease and notice period
In Poland we usually sign rental contracts for a definite period of time, e.g. 1 year. Make sure that in your rental agreement there is a clear note on what the contract end date is, how much time have you got to give notice (usually 1 to 3 months before the end date) and what should happen if you fail to give notice on time. In case you can’t find this information, ask your landlord to make an addition to your agreement.
4. Check the Inventory
The landlord should provide a list that details and describes the state of all pieces of furniture and equipment that stay in the apartment that can be used by you as a tenant. Before signing, check the inventory and take note of any damage you can see and ensure this is detailed and confirmed by your landlord that any damage was there before you moved in. Last but not least take a meter reading (gas, electricity, water) so you can settle the bills in the future. The more detailed the inventory, the smaller the chance you will have problems getting your deposit back from the landlord in the future!
Take pictures of the flat – they can be an addition to the inventory or, if taken with great precision, they can even replace it! It’s so much easier and faster to take a few snaps.
5. Get someone to be there when you sign the contract
No matter how long you have spent in Poland and how well you understand Polish. Try to bring someone with you to be there when you sign the contract and confirm the inventory. For starters this person might have a bit more critical attitude than you and be able to call attention to more errors and flaws than. If your Polish is not perfect (or non-existant?) they might help you communicate with the landlord and explain things to you (note that not every landlord in Poland will speak English). If you don’t know someone who could do that for you, consider hiring a real estate agent. OK, it will cost you a few zloty, but it will save you a lot of time. Your agent will not only find a place for you but will also take care of formalities and will make sure you don’t sign anything that could later come back and sting you!
If you have rented a property in Poland and feel there should be more points to this article, or if we have missed anything, let us know by adding your comment below!