The process is a lot like you might expect in other countries but there can be some surprises. Due to a high demand, turnover of apartments can be quick. There are many online sites with listings however you have dig through the details of each listing to be able to truly compare your options. Sometimes the monthly administrative fees are included in the monthly rent, sometimes they are listed separately. Sometimes the rent for a spot in the garage is listed separately. The cheapest and best places usually are quickly reserved so it’s good to be proactive in your search or work with an agent who knows of upcoming vacancies that match your needs. The apartment we call and ask about in Polish may be available even though you just asked about it in English or in broken Polish and were told it’s no longer available.
Some Polish landlords can be skeptical of “foreign” tenants since it only takes one bad personal experience of a tenant who fled the country or even rumors of one to discourage renting to foreigners. In addition, a language barrier often deters some landlords from wanting to rent to foreigners since they may not be able to communicate should any minor issues arise.
You must be extremely clear on what you need up front so you don’t waste time with listings that are too far from your work or kid’s school, apartments too small or beyond your budget. Make a clear list of your top priorities including location, size, how many bedrooms, bathrooms or other essential items like a spot in a garage or a big balcony. Next, draft a list of items where you are more flexible. Most importantly, clarify the time you can view listings, when you can move in and how long you need your lease to be. Most landlords ask for a minimum one year lease. If you like the place, the chances are high that someone else does too, so it’s important to be clear with your intentions and reserve the apartment as soon as possible.
You can access the Land and Mortgage Register website (though it’s only in Polish) to identify the property via a specific ID number that the owner can provide. It should list the name of the owner who should be signing your lease. Note that in Poland often an L.L.C. or other business may be the owner so you will be signing the lease with someone authorized from that company to execute the lease. The identity of these people are also a matter of public record so we can also verify their identities and trace them to the lease.
A landlord usually agrees to use one of our standard bilingual leases, customized to the needs and requests of the tenant and landlords since the leases are also legally binding. However at times a Landlord may request a “Umowa Najmu Okazjonalnego” or “contract of occasional lease.” This is a more detailed lease including a specific annex that is also completed and signed by a 3rd party residing in Poland who agrees to accept you at their Polish address of residence should you be evicted by the landlord. Because it can be difficult to evict tenants in Poland, particularly single Moms with children, this kind of lease provides a greater level of assurance for landlords when choosing tenants. This type of lease must be notarized in order to effectively use this annex when evicting a tenant.
It is best to abide by all specific obligations in the lease: Paying rent on time, take care of the property like it were your own, don’t sublease it or throw loud parties. You don’t want to give the landlord any legal grounds to evict you or withhold your deposit. Be sure to take detailed notes of any damages or you identify at the time you sign the lease and document everything in writing or even take photos or videos. If you do notice something broken within the first day or two don’t hesitate to let the landlord know. Communication is key. Most importantly buy a renter’s insurance policy that covers any damages. They are not very expensive and provide good coverage. Informing the landlord you plan to buy a policy can also be an effective bargaining chip when negotiating for the apartment you want. Contact us if you need help regarding one of these policies.