Tenancy Laws in Poland. What To Know About Polish Real Estate Law?
Do you rent a flat in Poland? Or maybe you plan to sign an agreement in the near future? The real estate and tenancy rights should be something in your interest. What are the obligations of the landlord and the tenant? What official rules do you have to follow and how to protect yourself?
Law is a tough thing. The official language is hard to understand and raises a lot of doubts and questions. But here comes our explanation, in the easiest possible way! With this guide you’ll finally understand it! [Text below the video]
Do you prefer watching than reading? Check our video guide:
Duties of the landlord and the tenant
Of course, both the tenant and landlord have their responsibilities. It’s good to know what you can demand but also what rules you have to follow. Let’s go through the most important ones:
Maintenance and repairs
According to Polish law, the landlord is responsible for all the mechanicals and appliances in the building and in the apartment that allows you to use things like water, heating, electricity, elevator and gas. But what does it really mean?
In other, easier words: that he (or she) has to take care of the maintenance of the central heating, plumbing, electrical installation etc.
As a consequence, the landlord is responsible for the necessary repairs in the apartment, especially the sewage system, heating and radiators, wiring, windows, doors, floors, and plaster. These kinds of repairs are done at his expense.
Before you move in, the landlord is responsible to check all the elements of the apartment and repairs. Of course, things wear out over time and the landlord has to prepare the flat for the next tenant. From this guide you already know you cannot be charged for regular wear and tear.
But the term regular wear and tear must be clarified. If the pot is burnt, the pan is scratched so the teflon is off, or a couch has stains that cannot be cleaned it’s not a regular wear and tear. The landlord has the full right to charge you for the replacement. Theoretically, the dirty couch can still be used, but put yourself into the new tenant place. Would you really like to rent a flat with a dirty couch? Not to mention that burnt pots and scratched pan can be dangerous to your health.
Let’s give more examples to get it better: if the heating system in your apartment stops working, the landlord has to come and fix it. The costs are on his side. Also, if the fridge or oven in the apartment stops working only because it’s old the landlord has to replace them and the costs are on his side. If the flooring in your apartment breaks because it was low quality or just old, the landlord will have to replace it at his own cost. However, if flooring breaks or there is a hole because you dropped something, you’ll have to cover the costs of replacement.
What about the staircase, the building, and its surroundings? All the owners of the building create a homeowners association – called wspólnota mieszkaniowa. The homeowners association takes care of cleaning, repairs, etc. Your landlord is part of the association and has some influence on that, but he can’t always repair something in the building right away.
For example: if the sewage system in the building is clogged, the homeowners association has to organize plumbers and cover the costs of the repairs. Your landlord should inform you about the problem as soon as possible, but he won’t be able to fix it on his own.
Here, same as in the apartment, if you damage something in the staircase or within the building, you’ll have to cover the costs of the damage. For example: if you drop something and damage the stairs, you’ll have to pay for the repair. So remember you’re responsible not only for your flat, but the building as well.
Changes in the apartment interior design
What about changing anything in the apartment? Well… be prudent. An upgrade (ulepszenie in Polish) can only be done with the written permission of the landlord. Not everything is an upgrade, for example changing a painting in a frame or changing blinds is okay, as this doesn’t increase the value of the flat and it’s easy to remove. Just remember to keep the original ones. But when you plan to do something like painting walls or hanging a shelf (as you make holes in the wall), please always ask your landlord first.
According to Polish law, after ending the lease the apartment must be in the same condition as when starting a lease. Easier to write, but how to do this? First of all, be consistent. Clean regularly and maintain the apartment (floors, carpets, walls, windows, furniture, etc.) in good condition. If something breaks, let your landlord know right away. The broken kettle won’t magically repair itself and the repair may be easier and cheaper to do at the beginning, before the damage gets worse.
When you know the move out date, prepare the flat. Of course, you have to take all your belongings, but also throw out the trash, clean the furniture, cabinets, toilet, and everything else, not only on the outside, but also on the inside. Don’t forget to clean the windows. If you don’t do it properly your landlord can ask you to pay for an extra cleaning service.
If during the lease you have replaced or repaired something, you’ve the right to get the refund – but only in case of the previously mentioned written agreement with the landlord. The landlord doesn’t have to agree to keep the things you bought without his knowledge. In this case, you’ll have to take it with you when moving. So please, always ask before you change anything.
Rental price increase
Can the landlord change the rent during your rental time?
The answer is yes, but:
- he has to inform you about this no later than on the last day of the month
- you have the right to keep the rental increase notice (wypowiedzenie stawki czynszu) and it’s not the same as rental termination notice. The termination notice is usually 3 months (or longer if the lease says so).
- if you don’t agree with the increase, you have 2 months to let the landlord know you disagree and you want to move out. You can also ask your landlord in a written form to explain to you why he wants to increase the rent.
If the increase of the rent is announced from the 1st of February, then the rent increase notice is calculated from the 1st of November to the 31st of January (full 3 months). The landlord has time to inform you about the fact at the least on the 31st of October. By the end of December you can not agree to the increase and send a written notice to the landlord. You can stay in the apartment until the end of January (end of termination notice) and then you have to move out.
The landlord can increase the rent a maximum of once every 6 months. Please remember that it only applies to the rent, not to the advanced payment for the utilities. If the city increases the waste disposal charge 3 times a year, the landlord has the right to increase it too.
In Poland paper is a must. Well, the regular correspondence with the landlord can be done via email or text messages. But when it comes to the most important stuff, like ending a contract or signing an annex to the agreement, it must be done on paper, with a handwritten signature by hand. A signature copy and pasted or created in a computer program is not valid.
Early contract termination
Is it even possible? Both the landlord and the tenant have a right to terminate the contract earlier, but only under the certain conditions. Ask your landlord before signing a lease agreement if it’s okay to end the contract earlier. In general, according to Polish law, you can’t terminate the contract before its date. You can do it if you have a contract without a stated termination date. In this case you can end a contract with a 3 months termination notice.
Your landlord can end the contract earlier only in certain situations. They are rather extreme, but better to be aware that you will have to move out if:
- you don’t pay for the rent;
- you don’t clean the apartment so it’s condition is really bad or generally you don’t care about the apartment;
- you party a lot and your neighbours complain;
- you sublease the apartment;
- the building in which you live needs to be torn down or be renovated.
Insurance is a very important aspect which we usually don’t think about, but it’s better to have it. Yeah, of course the landlord will (or at least should) have the insurance. Thanks to that you’re protected from unexpected events like a broken washing machine in your neighbor’s flat, which floods your apartment.
However, you can get insurance for yourself. It will protect you from the damage that you caused or something unexpected that happened to you, for example: breaking a glass shower door or a theft. This insurance is called civil liability insurance and it’s a relatively cheap one – especially compared to the cost of a potential damage. Highly recommended!
Your landlord can ask you to sign an agreement in the form of a notary act and that’s nothing to be afraid about! Notary acts usually don’t involve any extra documents, beside those that we’ve already mentioned in this article.
Why to sign one? The notary act is security for the landlord from a dishonest tenant. The law in Poland protects mainly the tenant and the landlord also needs some security, after all it’s his apartment. Don’t stress when the landlord suggests signing the notary act. Usually, it’s the landlord who prepares everything: he will set up a date, find a translator, and probably will pay for that.
Here, it’s worth mentioning that in Poland we have two types of notary acts:
- occasional lease – when you as a tenant sign a contract with a private person
- institutional lease – when your landlord is a company
Other useful pieces of information:
- Your landlord cannot enter the apartment without your permission during the lease. However, he/she can make a clause in the lease agreement that he has the right to periodic inspections of the flat: best if done with the presence of the tenant. The lease should also indicate the frequency of such inspections.
Exception: if there is a problem that can be dangerous to the tenant and others, the landlord has the right to enter the flat immediately, even if the tenant isn’t home or refuses to open the door. The landlord can enter only in the presence of police.
- As a foreigner, you’d probably like to pay the rent not in polish złoty but in a different currency. Ask your landlord for such a possibility so he can mark it in the documents. It’s possible from the legal point of view. Private landlords may not give you such a choice, but a company or an agency yes.
- Renting a flat with the help of the rental agency is always connected with a fee. An agency is only providing the rental services, it doesn’t own the apartments. When renting a flat, the fee is usually the monthly rent plus 23% tax. Not all the companies renting a flat are agencies. If they own the apartments, they will not require the commission fee. If a company subleases a flat and manages it so the landlord doesn’t have to worry about anything, the company gets paid by the landlord, not the tenant.
How to check the Land and Mortgage Number?
Not sure if the landlord is really entitled to rent out the apartment? Check it in the Land and Mortgage Register (Numer Księgi Wieczystej) How?
1. Get the number from your (potential) landlord.
The land and mortgage number should consist of 3 parts:
- Department code (for example in Katowice it’s KA1K)
- Land and mortgage number
2. Visit the Land and Mortgage Register website.
Head to: https://ekw.ms.gov.pl/eukw_ogol/menu.do (the website is only in Polish). Choose the section called: “Przeglądanie księgi wieczystej”.
3. Write down the number.
There are 3 editable boxes: firstly choose the code, then put the number, and lastly the checksum.
4. Check the results.
Now, the results should be displayed to you so you can see who is the owner of the apartment. That’s it!