As part of a new exciting partnership, Wrocław Uncut have joined forces with Infolink, our city's information and advice centre for foreigners. Together, we'll be bringing you a number of guides designed to make your lives in this great city that little bit easier.
In this new series of articles, we'll be busting bureaucracy, answering unanswered questions and providing you with invaluable ex-pat tips. In the first edition today, we're looking at the subject of accommodation.
Everybody needs to start out by finding themselves a place to stay in the city – but as a newcomer to Poland there are a number of things you should think about before putting pen to paper and moving into a new apartment. Thankfully, the Infolink team have provided us with detailed answers to some common questions below – allowing you to know the score before you make your first (or next) move.
Where can I find information about finding a flat in Wrocław?
The best way to find a flat in Wrocław is to search on the internet – there are lots of websites such as gumtree, dlastudenta, nieruchomości-online.pl, tablica.pl, domiporta, oferty.net, gratka, otodom, homebroker and others. Overcoming the language barriers in order to access these services can be a little bit of a challenge though, even with an online translator. Moreover, if the person showing you the flat or room doesn't speak English, simple misunderstandings can arise.
In order to make this process easier then, it is best to ask your Polish speaking friend for help, or even contact us here at InfoLink – that's what we're here for! Do not hesitate to contact us, we are here to help you.
Of course if you don’t want to surf the web, you could save yourself some time by hiring a real estate agent. There are letting agencies such as iglica.pl, accord-wroclaw.pl and others which can help you out here. It is important to note however, that renting a property with a letting agent usually means paying commission equal to one month's rent in the flat – so be sure to check for any extra fees or charges first before you factor 'em in. These can add a huge whack to the cost of the rent, and the fees vary between agencies. In most cases it will cost you hundreds of zl more, so be prepared.
What should I look for on the contract, and how can I be sure it's legitimate if I don't speak Polish?
Before you sign the contract, ask as many questions as possible, and get important answers in writing. Even if they don't tell the truth, you may notice them being a little apprehensive when you touch on certain subjects. Our top 5 rental questions to ask are the following:
1. How long has the property been up for rent? How long were the previous occupants living there?
2. Is maintenance of communal areas expected (e.g the garden)?
3. Is it partly/fully furnished, or unfurnished? Which items are included or not?
4. Who lives upstairs/next door? Have there been any disputes?
5. Is a parking space already included, or do you need a parking permit?
If the occupants are present during your viewing, use the opportunity to ask about the best and worst things about living there.
Once you've got your contract, dig through it and give it another read. Does it say the carpets need to be deep cleaned, or that no pets allowed? Here are some things to consider:
- Ensure nothing is missing or seems wrong. Check the inventory thoroughly to make sure everything is as it should be, and replace or fix anything you believe to be necessary.
- Ask the landlord to fix any problems before you move in.
- If you are leaving the apartment, take photos to prove you left it in good order. These could be useful evidence later if a dispute arises over your deposit.
- If your tenancy agreement states you must get the property professionally cleaned, you may have to provide receipts to prove you've done it (though whether this is an unfair contract condition is a grey area).
- For apartment rentals, it is better to pay via direct transfer to the owner's bank account. Ask your landlord about such a possibility. This won't automatically be written in all contracts, but landlords can insert it. This means you will both be able to see any rent-paying history, and you can prove you've paid your dues.
In case you don't understand Polish, the best way is to visit us before signing the contract. Then our lawyer can check if it's legitimate or not.
I've handed my landlord my deposit cash, but he/she won't give it back. What can I do?
Your deposit should be returned to you, provided you've met the terms of the tenancy agreement, you've paid your rent and bills, and you haven't caused any property damage.
If you agree with your landlord how much deposit you should get back, it either has to be returned to you within the day of the tenancy ending, or taken as a payment towards the last month's rent, if it is included in the agreement.
If you don't agree with your landlord's decision on your deposit, visit us. Our lawyer will look into it – so there is hope for any of you who are in such a situation.
What signs should I look for when first dealing with a landlord and deciding whether to move in?
If you want to rent a flat, then ideally you should sign a contract of lease. Once you get the contract, read it carefully before signing (as described above). Check it includes how much the deposit and rent are, when it's due, and what it covers (eg, council tax, utility bills, and other do's and do not's, such as whether you're allowed to smoke or sublet). Discuss any points you disagree on or don't understand with the landlord or letting agent. If they agree to change it, don't just take their word – it is better to make sure the contract has changed too so that you've proof.
If you feel the need to get into the nitty-gritty of the legal stuff, we can also give you the info on that here:
The basis for a contract of lease can be found in the Civil Code (Kodeks Cywilny, art 659-692), The Act on the Protection of the Rights of Tenants (Ustawa o ochronie praw lokatorów) and the Act on Housing Resources of Communes and (Ustawa o mieszkaniowym zasobie gminy). To ensure the tenant's security every contract of lease should include the following:
- the personal data of landlord
- the personal data of tenant
- the duration of lease
- the costs of lease
- the payment form
- the payment deadlines
- the terms of the notice period
- the deposit (usually in the amount of one month's rent)
Are there any other things we should be aware of?
- First of all, save your landlord's number on your phone in the case of an emergency.
- If it's a joint tenancy, each tenant will be responsible for the actions of the others – so be careful who you sign up to these with. If one person doesn't pay their share of the rent, the others might need need to fork out for them.
- Your landlord should ask before he enters the apartment ! If your landlord wants to inspect the property then they should give you notice and arrange a time with you first. Check your tenancy agreement for this, as it may be stated in it.
- Find the nearest hospitals in your area and what services each one provides. To do this, you can use our web site or the WrOPENup mobile app to locate your nearest health care services.
- It's also a good idea to check out the neighborhood before you move in. How safe is it? You can ask some locals or use the Wrocław Expats forum for example.
- For info on transport links, look up the timetables on jakdojade.pl – this is an important factor to weigh in.
- When you are viewing the flat, have your phone turned on and check for a signal. Then you'll avoid the possibility of being unlucky enough to have moved into a weak signal area.
How can I officially register my address?
The main thing that regards the registration is your tenancy agreement, which confirms that you stays here legally.
To get the document, bring your contract of lease, residence permit and/or passport to the nearest City Hall (you can check the addresses on our website or visit us more information). On arrival, you’ll get forms to fill in. Once they are completed the registration should be a relatively simple process that take less than 10 minutes.