The truth about the deposit – 5 things you need to know

1. What is it for?

Security deposit is one of the means a landlord might (but doesn’t have to) use to protect their property against dodgy tenants. According to Polish law the deposit might be used to cover any unpaid bills and / or rent, and the costs of any damage to the property caused by the tenants.

You might want to check your agreement for any additional instances when your landlord would want to secure a right to retain the deposit, e.g. in case you want to move out earlier than on the previously agreed date. If it’s in the agreement and you signed it, it’s also legally binding.

Mind you, as per the law, the deposit should not be used as the last month’s rent.

2. How much is it?

The deposit is usually the equivalent of 1 month’s rent. If you will pay 1,500 zl + utilities, be prepared to pay 1,500 zl deposit, as well. If your apartment is really high standard, a landlord might require a higher payment. According to Polish law, the deposit might be for up to 12 times your rent. If you can’t afford it but really like the flat and would like to move in, try negotiating with your future landlord. They might agree to instalments.

3. What happens when you don’t pay the deposit?

According to art. 6 of Tenants Rights, Municipal Housing Stock and the Civil Code Amendment Act, if the deposit is contracted under condition-precedent, the agreement is only binding when you actually make that payment. Look out for phrases like: “This agreement shall be conditional upon” or “This agreement is effective provided that…”

What does it mean in practice? If you fail to pay the deposit and it’s over the deadline, you’re no longer a tenant and lyour andlord doesn’t even have to give you a notice – the agreement is automatically terminated.

4. When do you get it back?

Unless stated differently in the agreement, a landlord is obliged to return the deposit within 1 month after you had moved out. Of course provided that you are not behind with any payments and you didn’t worsen the state of the flat.

5. When may your landlord keep (a part of) it?

It’s worth to know that under some circumstances a landlord might actually retain your deposit. In Poland we know two such situations. Mind you, if a landlord decides to retain your deposit, they should specifically state (in writing) why they are doing it!

  • One is when you forgot to pay your bills or rent, or if you made advance payment for utility bills and your landlord is still waiting for the annual clearing. They do have a right to use your deposit to cover any unpaid bills, but they have to provide you with evidence – always ask to see invoices.
  • The second one is when items are missing from the apartment or the general state of the apartment is worsened beyond normal wear or tear. You shouldn’t be surprised when a landlord wants to use the deposit to clean or repair after you. In this case they should specifically state what they are using this money for. For instance they might say the flat requires thorough cleaning and then hire the most expensive cleaning company – don’t let it happen.

If none of the above applies to you and yet, your landlord hasn’t returned your deposit yet, learn here how to get it back.


Basia Kubicka

Runs her own real estate agency Krakow Apartments. Passionate about helping people in all aspects of finding a perfect property, to buy or to rent. Occasional rope walker and rock climber. Follow Basia on Facebook.

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