Lease Agreement And Other Formal Aspects of a Flat Rental
Do you plan to relocate to Poland? Is renting a flat still ahead of you? Are you about to sign an agreement? In this article you’ll get to know the most important formal aspects of a flat rental. How to deal with utilities, fees, agreements, and all this stuff? These are the things you have to check before!
Firstly, some basic but very important information about the rental time. Usually, the minimum rental time is 12 months and the price you see in the ad applies to such a rental period. Sometimes you may find information in the offer that the minimum rental time is 9 months – an academic year. But ask the landlord before signing the contract if it’s possible to rent for a shorter period of time.
Also: don’t forget to ask your landlord what happens in case you end the contract earlier. According to Polish law, a lease with a termination date cannot be ended before the term. A good landlord should understand that many things may happen and let you end the contract earlier by a mutual agreement. Make sure that your landlord agrees to that before signing the contract.
Booking and security deposit
In our previous guide – 7 things to know BEFORE moving to Poland – we recommended you to search for a flat about a month before coming to Poland. Why? Because the rent usually starts right away (or the next full month). In some cases the ad informs about a specific starting date.
If you want to book a particular flat in advance, ask the landlord for such a possibility and ask about the costs. It may be necessary to sign a preliminary agreement as a confirmation and security for both parties. Most landlords request a security deposit – depozyt or kaucja in Polish. It’s usually 1 to 3-months rent. Be aware that landlords can take more, but it’s not very common.
The security deposit must be returned to you after the rental! The landlord has a maximum of 30 days after the move out. Important: the amount can be reduced by the costs like cleaning service or repairs. But the landlord cannot deduct anything from the deposit for the standard wear and tear of appliances and furniture you’ve been using. It’s a natural consequence of living in an apartment.
Lastly, if your lease is ending on an exact day and you want to move out that day, you don’t have to terminate the contract in a written form. Of course inform the landlord earlier you’re moving out (for example by email). The important thing is to move out the last day of your rental, never later. In the contract you may even find information about the exact move-out hour.
The most important document is, of course, the rental agreement. Please, always sign an agreement. It’s security for both sides – you and the landlord. Both parties have their own rights and responsibilities, so it’s good to have everything on paper.
The lease agreement should always include:
- the starting and ending day of the lease
- the date of a move in (it can be different than the starting day of the lease)
- the rental fee and advanced monthly payment for the utilities
- the payment day and the payment method/bank account number
- the exact address (which is very useful when filling out the residence registration address documents)
- the deposit amount and information that the deposit is returnable
The real estate law in Poland is quite complicated so better read the lease agreement carefully and ask the landlord if you are unsure about anything. You may even ask the landlord to provide you with a draft of agreement in advance so you’ll have time to go through all the details.
You don’t have to end the terminated contract but inform the landlord that you plan to move out on the last day of lease. Also, if you want to continue the rental with the same conditions, you don’t need to sign any extra documents. Anyway, your landlord will probably ask you to sign an appendix with new lease dates.
The second document that the landlord should provide you with is a detailed list of equipment in the flat – the hand over protocol – so you both know what’s in the apartment. Anything is missing? If it’s not included in the protocol, it’s not your problem.
- Pro tip: take pictures of the apartment on move-in day, especially in the presence of the landlord. This way you’re able to compare the condition of the flat after ending the lease and no one can blame you for the damage.
Next thing: the meters and utility usage! The protocol should always include the exact information about the numbers of the water, electricity, and (if you have it) gas meters, so you know the starting value and can compare it to next month’s usage.
Well, time for some boring (but important) stuff: if you sign an agreement with a company, rather than an individual, you also have to sign the GDPR document (in Polish called RODO). GDPR it’s the General Data Protection Regulation and it proves that the company is collecting and processing your personal data in a proper way. You’ll find it in all European countries, as it’s a EU law.
Polish law doesn’t require the lease agreement to be bilingual. But you should know what you’re signing, so request bilingual documents. If the landlord is ready to rent an apartment to a foreigner, he should be also ready to bear the cost of agreement translation. If he declines, don’t bother. For me it means just more problems in the future.
Be careful now: the handover protocol must be signed in the apartment, only after you see it and you’re sure about its condition. The lease agreement doesn’t have to be signed in the flat, as the move-in can be on a different day – but always after you see the apartment.
Rental terms and conditions
Rental terms and conditions of any apartment can vary, so make sure they are provided to you in a written form if you want to be clear.
Here are the typical rules and regulations you’ll find in most of rental ads:
Most landlords forbid smoking in the apartment. The smell of cigarettes may be unpleasant and may disturb other people. Also, it may be necessary for you to cover the costs of complete removal of traces of the smoked substances. No discussion here!
In this case everything depends on a property. If you rent a flat you can of course have guests, they can even stay overnight and nobody can forbid that. When you live in a shared apartment or a room you must respect your housemates. But it’s rather a good practice, not a rule. Even if the lease terms and conditions say that you can’t let other people use the flat for free, it’s rather a wish of your landlord than a general law. Just mind that you may have a higher utility usage.
As you already know, you can invite people to your place but you can’t disturb your neighbours and you have to respect quiet hours. In Poland they are usually between 10 PM and 6 AM. If your party gets out of control, your neighbours can call the police and you may be fined. And one more thing, if you party a lot and the landlord gets a complaint from other neighbours, he can even terminate your lease. That’s an extreme situation, but we preferred to warn you.
According to Polish law the tenant can’t sublease the apartment without the permission of the landlord. Even if it’s not written in the lease agreement, the landlord can terminate the contract earlier if he finds out about it. No exceptions, no excuses.
Everything depends on the landlord. Some may allow, some may not. No matter how much you love your furry friend and how polite he/she is, extra flat maintenance is always required. So expect an extra fee, like cleaning costs deducted from the deposit.
A ban on conducting business activity
It means that you can’t register your company in the address of the rented flat. Why, you may ask? The landlord is paying completely different taxes when renting a flat for rent and renting a property for business purposes.
Change of the design
In most cases it’s okay to make some small changes, like hanging blinds or posters on a wall. But before making anything consult your plans with the landlord and ask if it’s possible. It would be best to have the confirmation in a written form (like mail or text message). What about larger changes and renovations? We’ll tell you about them in another guide on Polish real estate law.
Utilities and additional rental costs
Rental price is the main fee you pay for rent. Of course, this cost is the first one you look at in a rental ad, but not the only one. There are also utilities (media in Polish) and administrative fees (opłaty administracyjne). What are they?
Every owner of an apartment has to pay some fees for the building administration. The fee includes things like costs of cleaning the staircase, elevator maintenance, heating and electricity in the common space, renovation fund, taxes, etc.
Some landlords don’t inform the tenants about the administrative fee but simply include these costs into the rent. If the ad you’re looking at doesn’t say anything, better clarify this with your landlord.
The utilities usually include water, electricity, waste disposal, heating, Internet and sometimes gas. They are paid monthly along with rent.
But be careful! Don’t be tempted by a low charge of utilities, because it’s only the advanced payment, estimated based on the average usage of a person.
Internet and waste disposal are usually the fixed costs, but the electricity, water and heating are paid for the actual usage. We’ve already mentioned that meter numbers should be checked the first day of your rental and put into the handover protocol, do you remember?
Utilities are usually settled once a year, so you can be very surprised with the final amount, especially if you pay a small advance payment. Ask your landlord to give you information about the numbers of meters or to send you pictures on a regular basis (once a quarter should be enough).
If the water and heating are city provided, you’ll pay the advanced monthly payment along with the rental. The city settles these once a year and if the tenant used more than he paid in the advanced monthly payment, the difference needs to be covered.
However, utilities are not always paid to the landlord. In case of long term rental, the landlord may ask the tenant to sign the contract with electricity and gas providers on his own. Of course the utilities policy depends on the landlord – if he owns many properties in one building, he probably signed agreements with all the providers. And of course, this scenario is much more convenient for you as a tenant.
These are the things that you really should know when signing the lease agreement. Finding the right flat is one thing, but going through all the procedures is another story. We hope your rental story will be a good one and your rental will go smoothly. If you’d like to learn more about relocation issues, check out another guides here.