How to rent an apartment in Warsaw (and avoid scams)
If the thought of finding an apartment in Warsaw makes you nauseous, you are not alone.
House hunting in Warsaw can be daunting, tiring and time-consuming. Even locals, who know the language and have a better knowledge of the market, often face many difficulties.
So how can an expat manage to get out of the intricate tangle of scams and bad apartments?
We hope that with this guide we are going to give you the knowledge, the tips, and the resources you need to succeed in your flat research in Warsaw!
The guide is organized as follows:
- How to find an apartment in Warsaw: tips and resources.
- Rental Agencies I know and trust (with coupon code valid in February 2019)
- How to avoid scams and ugly surprises
- Contracts: official or private agreement?
- What to do before you sign the rental contract
- Other things about the rental market which are good to know
- Types of accommodations and price ranges in Warsaw (2017).
How to find an apartment in Warsaw: tips and resources.
Tips to find an apartment:
- Calculate how much you can afford
What is your monthly net salary? (or your monthly budget?) A general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t pay more than 30% for your rent (including the expenses).
- Don’t rush. Find a nice hotel or hostel (I list my favorite ones in that article) and stay there as long as you don’t find a good apartment. This could save you a ton of money in the long run.
- Get to know the districts. Pay attention to the distance to the center, distance to work, university, school, and shops. Check out our review of Warsaw districts here.
- Don’t look for a house on Facebook only. Prices of accommodations are often higher on Facebook and the competition is fierce. Use multiple resources (we list some below) to find a house. Many rentals are private and advertise their place on newspapers or with online ads. Most of the apartment are rented through personal “connections”, try increasing your network and your chances to find an apartment will increase as well.
- When you find a good house, maximize your chances that the landlord will choose you. This might be obvious to most of you, but dress well, be polite, smile, don’t be late to the meeting and bring a Polish friend (which could help you if the landlord doesn’t speak English).
Resources to find an apartment in Warsaw (some are in polish, You can use Google Chrome to translate the websites on the fly):
- The housing and real estate section of www.gratka.pl (Dom i Nieruchomości)
- real estate section of olx.pl (‘nieruchomości’)
- Offline newspaper: Gazeta Wyborcza, has a housing supplement called Gazeta Dom.
- Gazeta Dom is also available online at http://dom.gazeta.pl.
- Once a week, newspapers usually have a real estate section (‘nieruchomości’) offering apartments for rent (‘wynajem mieszkań’), for two-room apartments.
- On Facebook, there are many groups in which people post rooms or apartments for rent (but be aware of scams and higher prices).
- If you are a student, check universities websites to find dormitories.
Rental Agencies I know and trust:
- www.pepehousing.com, this is a group of ex Erasmus providing quality apartments to students. The price is slightly higher than average, but you are guaranteed to get a nice place and you can get your place for a medium-term period (like 5 months, which is difficult in the open market). It’s a great option if you are looking for a place to stay during your ERASMUS (VALID ONLY IN FEBRUARY 2019: we got a 60% Pepe Housing promo code for you: ODD18).
- Rentflatpoland.com is run by Nicolas, a French expat, and entrepreneur. After realizing that the rental market in Poland is a big mess (especially for foreigners), Nicolas decided to build a reliable and trustworthy platform which would help expats in their house hunting.
How to avoid scams and ugly surprises while looking for an apartment
- Never pay rent upfront, especially not in cash.
- Be aware of great sounding deals at a crazy low price. That simply does not happen. It is probably a scam. You can refer to the price ranges I provided below.
- Don’t trust people that can’t let you see the apartment (they are abroad or temporarily very busy). Scammers are very good at sounding trustworthy and they will invent all sort of intricate stories.
- Does the location of the flat exist? Check the photos of the building. Check google maps.
- Don’t pay for seeing the apartment. This should obviously be free.
- Use “Google Images” to search for the image of the apartment. If the same pictures are connected to flats in Warsaw, London and Melbourne, you know it’s a scam (this happens a lot).
- If you spot a scam, comment the post and mark it as spam. By doing so you will help fellow house hunters.
Contracts: official or private agreement?
In Poland there are basically two kinds of rental contracts that landlords can give you:
Private agreements: These are informal contracts through which landlords are basically sub-renting you the apartment.
Official rental contracts: formal contracts which are covered by tenancy law. This is the safer choice and you should really try to get one of these.
There should always be an inventory attached to the contract, for both furnished and unfurnished apartments.
A well-designed contract contains at least this:
- Identity information and permanent address
- Rental period (usually is 6 to 12 month). Make sure you agree with the termination of the agreement in advance and include it in the contract. If you sign a contract for a fixed duration, i.e. 6 months or a year, don’t expect to be able to prolongate it. It may work, but there is no guarantee.
- Terms and conditions of rental and contract termination (include a period of notice)
- Monthly costs (and what is included. Water? Heating? Electricity? Administrative costs?)
- Deposit information: how much? How will it be returned? The deposit is usually equivalent to one or two months of rent.
- Who’s responsible for the maintenance of the property? It’s usually the landlord but watch out for hidden clauses in the agreement.
What to do before you sign the rental contract for an apartment in Warsaw
It’s time to finally sign the contract.
But what if it’s written in Polish? Since it’s crucial to read and understand the contract you have some alternatives:
- Bring with you a Polish speaker
- Ask for a translation of the document
- Give up the idea of finding a flat in the private market and go to a good agency.
What is really important to notice (and agree) before signing the contract:
- What kind of contract is it? Private agreement or official contract? As we discussed earlier, you should always try to get an official contract, which will grant you Tenant’s rights.
- Spot any damage and ask to take note of it in the inventory document. Take pictures of the flat in order to settle arguments about the condition of the flat.
- Try to talk to current tenants and neighbors. You can easily identify problems and annoyances.
- Check the personal data of the landlord.
What you should also ask:
- Apartments offer a great deal of freedom but get informed about quiet hours, visitors and pet restrictions. Are there community rules you should know?
- Ask about rules regarding painting the walls, hanging stuff on the wall, or copying keys.
- Are you interested in subletting in the future? Make sure is allowed.
Types of apartments in Warsaw and price ranges in the central districts (2017)
Studio apartments (‘jednopokojowe’ or ‘kawalerka’):
- About 30-40 m2
- 1 living room with a bed
- Kitchen (sometimes in the same room, sometimes separated)
- 1 bathroom
- Good for one person or couples
- 1800 – 2200 pln
Two room apartments (‘dwa pokoje’ or ‘dwupokojowe’):
- About 50 m2
- 1 living room
- 1 kitchen
- 1 bathroom
- 1 bedroom
- 2500 – 3200 pln
- Good for couples
Three or four rooms apartments (‘trzypokojowe’/’czteropokojowe’):
- About 60-80 m2
- 1 living room
- 1 kitchen
- 1 bathroom
- 2/3 bedrooms
- 3500 – 5000 pln
- Good for families or groups of friends sharing
Public dormitories (‘akademik’):
- the cheapest option
- shared room, kitchen and bathroom
- limited number available
- From 500 pln
- Shared or private facilities
- From 900 pln
Naturally, the further from the center, the cheaper the prices. Keep in mind that according to the statistics, the average rent price in Warsaw is around 50PLN per square meter.
Conclusion about finding an apartment in Warsaw
We believe that if you follow these guidelines you will be well ahead in the house hunting game.
To summarize, the best advice we can give is to:
- use multiple resources when looking for a place,
- keep your eyes open and avoid scams,
- find a polish speaker and
- read the contract very well.
We wish you the best of luck. Let us know in the comments if you have more advice and suggestions to share!
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