ABCs of renting a flat
Renting a flat in Warsaw may prove a huge challenge for a foreigner; the task, however, may become much easier if you get to know some rules. To start with, a handful of information about standard rental rates in Warsaw. They are determined by the area of the flat and its location. Among the most expensive flats are those located in such districts of Warsaw as Śródmieście, Mokotów, Wola and Żoliborz; among the cheapest ones are those situated on the outskirts of Warsaw, in Ursus, Białołęka, Wawer and Wesoła. If you want to be able to get to the city centre quickly, you should look for a place to live in Ursynów, Ochota, Bielany, Bemowo, Włochy, or Praga.
You may rent a conveniently located one-room flat of a good standard for 1600-1700 PLN on average; a double-room flat for 1800-2000 PLN and three-room one for 2300-2500 PLN a month.
Looking through classified ads, you should bear in mind that you will have to pay not only a rent but also service charges (electricity, gas and water), the amount of which depends on the number of the occupants of the flat. If there are 2-3 of them, you will have to pay additional 200-300 PLN a month. Many ads specify whether the price includes a rent with additional charges.
You should remember that in the first month you will have to pay a security deposit, usually equivalent to a monthly rent, used to cover the costs of damage to the flat if there will be any. You should get your deposit back on leaving the flat.
It is recommended to sign a rental agreement as a form of protection for both parties. Concluding an agreement, a foreigner should give his or her personal details, including the number of the identity document he or she uses. An agreement is usually concluded for a fixed period; it specifies the amount of the rent, obligation to pay a security deposit and period of notice. It should be noted that every agreement can be annexed.
How to look for a flat
A majority of people search for a flat reading classified ads in newspapers and on the Internet. Among the most popular websites where you can find classified ads about flats to rent are Gumtree.pl, Gratka.pl and Tablica.pl. Reading ads, you should make sure whether the flat is rented directly from the owner or through an agent. In the latter case, the flat is rented through a real estate agency and you may have to pay a commission. You should be aware of the fact that finding a flat is not always easy. Learning that the tenant is a foreigner, the owners often say that the offer is no longer valid. In order to increase your chances of making an appointment with the owner to inspect the flat, ask your Polish friends to make a call on your behalf. But making an appointment is only a qualified success. The demand for flats in Warsaw is huge and there is a stiff competition between prospective tenants. In the flat, it may turn out that the price has risen and there are other people interested in renting the flat who are negotiating with the owner. But be optimistic and patient, and then you will succeed in your search.
Registration of residence
Renting a room or a flat, you should be prepared that the owners are usually reluctant to register the residence of their tenants, both Poles and foreigners. The only way to cope with this problem is to build good relations with the owner and hope that this will make him or her more inclined to register your residence. As for foreigners, registration of residence is crucial when it comes to applying for a residence permit for a fixed period (a so-called residence card). You should make the owner realise that registration and de-registration of residence are equally easy (you can register your residence in the district office where you reside). Another way of registering residence is to ask some Polish friends to register your residence in their flat.
Information for refugees and persons applying for the refugee status
A foreigner applying for the refugee status in Poland may decide to stay outside a centre for refugees. In order to be able to do so, he or she may submit an application for financial support to the Department of Social Assistance of the Office for Foreigners. As part of the “cash benefit”, a foreigner is allowed 25 PLN a day; if the foreigner resides in the territory of Poland with the spouse or minor children, the daily cash benefit per a family member amounts to 20 PLN for a family of 2 members, 15 PLN for a family of 3 members and 12,50 PLN for a family of 4 and more members.
The benefit shall be paid out once a month, till every 15th day of the month, in a centre located in the closest proximity to the foreigner’s place of residence or by postal order to the indicated address.
Foreigners who hold the refugee status and reside in Warsaw may apply for a much cheaper council flat (the city allots 5 residential premises a year for this purpose). You should submit an application for a council flat to the Department of Housing at the District Council Office in the district you reside. You should be aware of the fact that you may have to wait for a decision for as long as several years. Moreover, if you change your place of residence, the procedure will start anew. Below you will find a list of the district offices in Warsaw:
Bemowo District Office
70 Powstańców Śląskich St
Tel. (22) 533-75-21, (22) 533-79-05, (22) 533-77-05, (22) 533-77-02
Białołęka District Office
2a Milenijna St
Tel. (22) 811-62-64, (22) 811-50-07
Bielany District Office
52 Kasprowicza St
Tel. (22) 833-18-07, (22) 833-18-83
Warszawa-Mokotów District Office
Dolny Mokotów, 10 Sielecka St
Górny Mokotów, 71 Dąbrowskiego St
Tel. (22) 844-37-75, (22) 854-29-35, (22) 646-35-61, (22) 646-38-25
Ochota District Office
17 Powstańców Wielkopolskich St
Tel. (22) 668-84-84, (22) 823-18-93
Praga Północ District Office
15 Kłopotowskiego St
Tel. (22) 590-05-81, (22) 590-01-41
Praga Południe District Office
274 Grochowska St
Tel. (22) 338-00-00
Rembertów District Office
28 Gen. Chruściela „Montera” St
Tel. (22) 515-15-50, (22) 515-16-09
Śródmieście District Office
6/14a Krucza St
Tel. (22) 502-29-26 do 34
Targówek District Office
2 Chodecka St
Tel. (22) 675-86-10, (22) 675-28-10, (22) 338-94-34
Ursus District Office
1 Czerwca 1976r. Sq.
Tel. (22) 478-61-36, (22) 478-60-41
Ursynów District Office
61 Komisji Edukacji Narodowej Ave.
Tel. (22) 545-74-51, (22) 545-74-52, (22) 545-73-93, (22) 545-73-95
Wawer District Office
54 Włókiennicza St
Tel. (22) 872-19-03, (22) 872-16-80, (22) 516-42-93
Wesoła District Office
21a 1 Praskiego Pułki St
Tel. (22) 773-44-12 w.105,116, (22) 773-94-40 w.105,116
Warszawa-Wilanów District Office
11 Stanisława Kostki Potockiego St
Tel. (22) 642-60-01 w.202, 252
Włochy District Office
257 Krakowska Ave.
Tel. (22) 575-88-22, (22) 575-89-56
Wola District Office
18 Syreny St
Tel. (22) 631-26-91, (22) 636-21-60
Żoliborz District Office
6/8 Juliusza Słowackiego St
Tel. (22) 207-14-15, (22) 560-12-81
In Warsaw, there are several night shelters where you can find temporary accommodation in the event you find yourself homeless.
Targówek, 1 Lniana St
Włochy, 17 Łopuszańska St
Białołęka, 44 Marywilska St
Praga Północ, 22 Kijowska St
Wola, 17aPrzyce St, 55 Potrzebna St
Bemowo 303 113d Dywizjonu St
Ochota 5 Mszczonowska St
Praga Południe 1bDudziarska St
Buying a flat
A foreigner is not required to hold any legal status in Poland in order to buy separate residential premises, or a flat. In other words, a foreigner who holds a visa, a residence permit for a fixed period, a permanent residence or EU long-term residence permit does not need a permit to buy a flat; neither does a foreigner who does not reside in Poland but wants to buy a flat here. The premises purchased should be used only for residential, not commercial purposes – in the latter case, a permit issued by the Ministry of the Interior is necessary.
A permit issued by the Ministry of the Interior is necessary also if a foreigner wishes to buy a house. Exempted from this rule are foreigners residing in Poland for at least 5 years since being granted a permanent residence or EU long-term residence permit; so are foreigners married to a Polish citizen and residing in Poland for at least 2 years since being granted a permanent residence or EU long-term residence permit if they wish to buy a house that will constitute a statutory joint property of spouses.
Attention: A permit issued by the Ministry of the Interior is necessary for any purchase of real estate located in the border zone or agricultural land the area of which is bigger than 1 hectare.
In the event a foreigner needs a permit to buy real estate, such a permit is issued in the form of
an administrative decision by the Ministry of the Interior. There is no specific application form; the application may be handwritten. Apart from the applicant’s personal details, the application should include:
- the property designation, that is its location, registration number, area, land register number
- information about the legal form of acquisition – for instance purchase, donation or inheritance
- information about the purpose of acquisition – for instance to let, for sale, for residential purposes, to conduct business activity.
- information about prospective acquisition; in case of donation or inheritance – the last will and testament and the agreement that binds to conclude a donation agreement.
The following documents should be attached to the application:
- an identity document, passport and, optionally, an extract from the business activity register if a person conducts business activity
- an extract form the land and mortgage register
- an extract from the land registry and a record file
- an extract from the area development plan or from the land-use study (the last three points do not apply to the acquisition of real property with a separate ownership )
- a declaration of the seller to sell the real property or a preliminary agreement signed by the seller and the purchaser
Copies of the documents should be certified to be true copies of the originals; the documents drawn up in a foreign language should be translated by a sworn translator. The documents concerning the real estate should be issued not earlier than six months before submitting the application. Remember to enclose a proof of payment of a stamp duty of 1570 PLN. Otherwise the application will be returned without being considered further. The duty is refundable in the event a negative decision is issued, but only on the applicant’s request.