Are you looking for a rental apartment in Poland? Or maybe you’ve even found an attractive offer? In this article, we give you 11 practical tips to know before you sign a rental agreement with a Polish landlord.
As Wellcome Home, we’ve been renting apartments in Katowice, Poland for years, and we want it to be a trusted and safe solution. Unfortunately, we know from tenants’ stories that this is not always the case. If you’re planning to rent an apartment in Poland and you are just before signing the contract, or even if you’ve already rented an apartment, these eleven practical tips will secure your interest and avoid many unpleasant situations and surprising costs.
1. Suspiciously Attractive Rental Offer
Competition is high, so rental ads tempt you with cheap rent. Suspiciously cheap. Only then, when you scroll down the offer, it may be written that in addition there are also: high administrative costs plus an extra commission for the agency plus an extra fee to the apartment owner, and it makes for a large amount.
Read the ads carefully, especially everything in the small print and at the very bottom, and if you don’t find such information, then ask if the ad includes all costs.
2. Low Utilities Costs
Pay attention to the amount of the advanced payment for utilities and check what’s included.
200 PLN may look tempting in the offer, but an actual bill for 2000 PLN after the rental is no longer tempting. It’s better to have a higher advanced payment that will realistically cover the cost of consumption, and which you will pay regularly every month.
How much should it be? It depends on what goes into it (for example, the type of central heating), but based on our experience: a one-bedroom apartment with gas heating is about 400-500 PLN per month.
Remember that the meters’ status should be written down when you move in. Ask the landlord who checks the utilities’ status during the lease and how you can be informed about the potential underpayment or overpayment.
3. Ask About The Security Deposit
When renting an apartment, it’s normal for the tenant to pay a security deposit. This amount can be, according to Polish law, a max. of 6 times the rent, but practice shows that it’s usually one to two times the rent.
If the ad doesn’t specify, ask the landlord right away. It’s a lot of cash you’ll have to put down to start with. The time for returning the deposit after your rent expires is based on the law and is thirty working days after the end of the contract. Remember that the landlord can reduce the deposit after you move out if any repairs are needed. This is what the deposit is for, but all costs must be justified. What is and what isn’t justified? We tell you about it in the video: “Your Rights As a Tenant in Poland”. Check it carefully.
4. Take Pictures. Lots Of Pictures!
If you damage anything that is not regular wear and tear, you’ll have to pay for it. But there may be things that were broken before you moved in. During the move-in process, you don’t have the opportunity to check everything, some damage may also have escaped the landlord’s attention. We have a good tip: take pictures (as many pictures as possible).
We as the landlord do all the photo documentation during the move-in, but this is not a rule, but rather one of our detailed procedures. If it’s not in the standard, you do them in the landlord’s presence. In addition, you can add a note in the contract or the handover protocol that photos were taken on move-in day.
5. Bilingual Rental Agreement
This is crucial, but still not so obvious. Ads on Polish websites are already more and more often in English, but the agreement isn’t. Specialized language requires a professional translation and this is an additional cost. But you can’t sign a contract you don’t understand, right?
What’s important: for such an agreement to be officially respected by the authorities (for example in the city hall for registration), it must be bilingual, in English and Polish too.
Also, make sure who bears the cost of translation. For us, it’s obvious that if the landlord agrees to rent to a foreigner, they should also take care of a decent translation. But, it may only be obvious to us.
6. Notary Act
Determine whether the landlord will want to sign the contract at a notary and who bears the cost. This is not a requirement, but completely normal in Poland (sometimes the landlord wants additional security). The cost of a notary act is usually around 400-500 PLN.
If the contract is signed with a foreigner, an official translator will also be necessary. Ask who pays and who finds them. We’ve heard of cases when the tenant came to the notary but was not told beforehand to look for a translator (and to pay too).
7. Insurance Is A Must!
Our tenants already know this because we keep reminding them regularly. But, it’s still not common practice, so I repeat here, and I beg you: please, get civil liability insurance for yourself.
It costs less than 1000 PLN per year and protects you from unintentional damage to your apartment (and beyond!). How to apply for it and what’s included? We have a detailed guide on this topic on our website, you’ll find it in this civil liability guide. It’s really easy!
Do you have to buy insurance? No, you don’t, but its low cost is nothing compared to the damage you may cause. Well, and it protects you not only in the apartment but also in normal life, like if you damage something in a store, etc.
An important note here: sometimes the lease agreement says that if you don’t get insurance, you have to pay an additional fee every month. Why such a provision? The landlord knows how big the risk is and wants to motivate you to get insurance.
Of course, being fair, they should tell you about it upfront, and not surprise you with the cost at the end of the contract. But we know similar stories, so I prefer to warn you.
8. Watch Out For Hidden Costs!
What do I mean by hidden costs? All those which you are not aware of because they were not pointed out at the beginning, are somewhere on the sixteenth page of the agreement you didn’t read, and so on.
What to pay particular attention to? Well… The most common things may be mandatory cleaning costs after moving out or the required condition in which the apartment should be returned (for example, repainting the walls all white).
Our advice? Be patient and avoid any rush. Make sure you have enough time to carefully read the agreement.
In an ideal world, the landlord should point out any additional cost, but in the real world, it may be different. Ask questions and read the agreement. It’s your right, but also your duty.
9. Damage? It’s Not My Problem.
May you never hear such a sentence from your landlord, but… it’s better to know how to proceed in case of damage.
Ask the landlord who’s responsible for the apartment during the lease and who’s your contact person. What should you do if something breaks, or you need help? When something happens at night, on the weekend, or during their vacation?
Any problems must be repaired quickly to minimize further damage and costs, and to allow you to use the apartment. Agree on what repairs are your responsibility and whether you need to seek a specialist yourself, as well as who pays for the eventual cost.
At Wellcome Home, we even replace light bulbs, but each landlord may have a different policy. Here we once again recommend you to check this video on tenant rights and responsibilities.
10. Early Contract Termination
In theory, according to Polish law, it’s not possible to terminate a contract signed for a fixed period earlier. And even if you suddenly change plans, the landlord doesn’t have to agree to that or may ask you to look for a replacement tenant. This can be difficult.
If your plans are flexible, and you prefer to have an alternative, ask right away if there is such a possibility, and be sure to write it in the contract. Verbal assurances, although binding by Polish law, are difficult to prove. We have it written down in every contract, so the process is clear and transparent.
11. End Of Lease. What Now?
Lease agreements are signed for a fixed period, usually a year. What if you forget to tell them that you are moving out after that time? Nothing, you can simply move out. The landlord doesn’t have the right to automatically extend your contract for another period.
Of course, it’s better to say beforehand that you intend to move out. For your safety, it’s important to sign a handover protocol when giving the apartment back to the landlord.
What if you want to stay? The landlord will probably ask you to sign an appendix to your agreement. If they don’t, the contract goes into an indefinite period.
Summary And More Useful Links
May all above mention issues remain theory, but… better to be aware. We wish you only wonderful rental experiences and caring landlords.
Don’t forget to browse the Wellcome Home blog and expat guide where we share more relocation, flat rental, and Poland-related tips. And if you’re searching for a long-term place for yourself, consider Katowice. We’ve got you covered with hassle-free rental apartments, and we’ll be happy to support you with the rest.