So, you’re moving to Wroclaw? That’s great, but what about renting an apartment or house here? Is it even possible to do it from abroad, or do you need to live out of a suitcase for a few weeks? Well, read on and let us explain.
The very first thing to know about the property market in Poland is that it is unregulated in terms of rent controls. Those coming from cities such as Berlin can be shocked by this, but it means that the price can be negotiated. In reality, it is unlikely for most landlords to negotiate due to the high demand for rental properties in the city. Owners of bigger properties (those above 100m2) will be more likely to discuss discounts, simply due to the relative lack of demand for such properties.
As the property market in Poland is growing quickly, it can be very difficult to find a property to rent. Websites such as Gumtree, Otodom and Gratka can be used to find apartments, but many advertisements are actually posted by agents. Unfortunately, that means that the properties may not even exist, or that the price changes when you enquire about the property. Try and deal directly with landlords rather than agents, but be warned that many will simply not reply to a message in English, or that they will expect you to be physically located in Poland.
That leads on to our next point:
Real Estate Agents
Unfortunately, coming from abroad, you’ll have little choice but to deal with them in the beginning. Many of them are unprofessional and are only looking for their commission. Commission? Yes, you’ll pay at least 1 month in rent as commission to the agent, with some agents even asking for more. You can negotiate the fee with them, but be prepared to feel as if you’ve spent a lot of money for nothing. Professional real estate agents are few and far between, and for expats, it is recommended to use an expat-orientated service such as Lionall instead who can use their network of contacts to find good value properties in the right location while reducing costs related to your move.
The Actual Costs
So, when you see an apartment advertised, what does it actually include? Well, the price listed is simply the cost of the rent. It normally won’t include the costs, such as heating, water and building maintenance fees, and very few landlords provide an internet connection for legal reasons. These costs can be significant, and detailed readings of meters should always form part of the initial contract. Landlords should supply copies of bills as they arrive, and the meter readings at the end of the contract should also be checked. It is also advisable to take pictures of the property at the beginning and end of the lease.
If you’re coming from the UK, it might surprise you to learn that there are no deposit regulations in Poland. In fact, it’s a free for all, with deposits routinely retained by landlords regardless of the condition of the apartment. As a result, expect to lose your deposit, and we recommend that the deposit should be used to pay the last month’s rent instead. This tactic may seem unethical, but it works.
In our next piece, we will discuss Polish contracts and how it affects the renter, both before, during and after the period of renting the property. Of course, never sign a contract without inspecting the property first.
Does this all seem like a minefield? Wroclaw Expats recommends using our trusted partner, Lionall. They can handle the entire process for you, including initial property searches, negotiations over pricing and contracts and more. Lionall takes the headache out of property searching, and comes strongly recommended by many of our users!
Frederick Bollinger a freelance British writer based in Wroclaw.