«The collapse has already occurred, rent the first vacant apartment.» What’s happening in the Polish rental market now 2022
«The collapse has already occurred, rent the first vacant apartment.» What’s happening in the Polish rental market now 2022

«The collapse has already occurred, rent the first vacant apartment.» What’s happening in the Polish rental market now

This is a unique time for the rental market of Poland. Real estate agents claim it is a miracle to find a nice apartment for long-term rent at a reasonable price. For short-term rent (up to two months), it is almost impossible. But what if you have just arrived? We asked agents the following questions: How to rent accommodation in Poland? Is it possible to find an apartment in Warsaw? Why do tenants in Poznan rent housing with no electricity and water?

«I have recently drove a family to a house with no electricity and water, which they rented for $100 a week»

Evgeny from Belarus moved to Poland about a year and a half ago. After about six months, he decided to help Russian-speaking people find housing in Poznań, the city in which he settled with his family. Gradually, he even succeeded to gather a small team of four people who could quickly call apartment owners go to housing showings. Even then, the demand for rental housing grew every day. According to Evgeny, the situation in the rental market is now critical. Demand is several times higher than supply, and there are virtually no available apartments.

— To illustrate the situation, I’ll tell you what happened literally just now: a new ad appeared on one of the sites (we developed our own bot that tracks new ads and immediately lets us know about their appearance). I immediately began to call the owner, and about 10 minutes passed that could not reach him — the line was busy all the time. When I did manage to talk to the owner of the apartment, he suggested that I sign up for the queue of those wishing to come for a showing. It turned out that 10 minutes after the ad appeared, I would be about 30th in the queue. Many owners even stopped picking up the phone — they can only text. As a result, of course, I am no longer planning to go to the showing — obviously, the apartment will be rented before me.

The situation is such that few people come for showings, — apartments «fly away» immediately after publication. In 10 minutes, people are ready to rent a home and even make a deposit. And, as far as I know, a similar situation in the rental market is now developing in many cities in Poland. 

According to Evgeny, there were two key dates that strongly influenced the housing market in Poznań. The first is in September 2021, when foreign students were not provided with a dormitory, and the second — known to everyone — on February 24, 2022. 

— Beginning in September 2021, ads for rental apartments «lived» for a maximum of several days. However, we were able to adapt quite quickly and continued to work. After the February events, the demand for rent skyrocketed, we didn’t even have those two days to act. Starting February 24, we started receiving a rental request about every half hour. 

At the same time, the first wave of refugees, who had at least some time to gather and sell at least some of their property, came to Poland with money (though not much), and they were willing to rent good quality housing for a high price. Such people, as a rule, started looking for housing already from Ukraine, and were willing to reserve housing simply based on photos without any showings. 

The second and third waves of refugees left without any funds. Even now, it is quite difficult to rent something more or less decent cheaply, and therefore some of them agree to live even in houses that are not very suitable for living. For example, the other day I brought a family of Ukrainians to a house without electricity and water which they rented for $100 a week (for a limited time). It became possible because owners now have exposed all illiquid properties they have. If earlier among announcements it was almost impossible to see an apartment with a toilet and a shower right at an entrance, now such housing is rented after a day. The same applies to unfinished houses, which fit into the category of «just a roof over your head». 

All realtors are shocked by the situation — their bases are just empty. New ads «live» for a maximum of 20 minutes, and therefore the properties displayed on the sites are often simply irrelevant. At the same time, in my opinion, rental prices did not increase, but remained more or less at the same level. It may seem that way, because there are simply no cheap options left on the market — they were eaten up. There are still expensive properties, but there are also very few of them. And it will be even worse, the situation is critical.

«My team has 40 rental requests per hour. It is simply unrealistic to realize»

Realtors, who used to help find housing in Poland, now most often simply do not answer the phone — all you can do is write messages on messenger platforms. According to the realtor Yanina, «now is not the time to choose an apartment with curtains to match the color of your eyes» — it is necessary to take the first more or less suitable option. Increasingly, there are proposals for subletting, which previously could only be thought of as a last resort. 

— There has always been a dynamic rental market in Warsaw, but now demand exceeds supply. For one apartment there is a queue of 20 people, and sometimes, the owner removes their phone number from the ad — because there are a lot of calls. At the same time, not everyone understands what is happening to the market now, only in the process of searching does it become obvious: it is better to take a vacant apartment now (any at all). Previously, you could put a «filter» on preferences: the floor, the width of the bed, the side the light comes through, a bathtub instead of a shower, etc. Now, unfortunately, is not the time to choose. 

At the same time, the behavior of apartment owners has also changed. One of the most important issues now is nationality. However, denials due to nationality make a minuscule fraction of my more than 100 daily calls. They are unpleasant, but they are few and far between among good deeds. It so happens that Belarusians are refused, but also families with children, those who do not have a job are refused. Almost one out of two contract is occasional (a contract in which the owner requests something like a guarantee from a «friend» of the tenant. An important nuance is that only an owner of real estate in Poland can act as such a guarantor. Such an agreement, in fact, allows the owner of the apartment to evict the tenant more easily — author). Prices can change and increase on the go — a double deposit, a contract for 2 years, frequent announcements with the text «only for Polish citizens». 

Specifically, rental prices are expected to rise. But this is connected not only with the demand but also with the increase in credit rates. Many rental apartments have a mortgage, and owners need to make monthly payments to the bank. 

Now the rent of a modern «two-room» costs about 4000 zlotys. Six months ago, similar housing could be rented for up to 3,500 zlotys. However, the prices are very different: «one-rooms» from 2200-2400 zlotys, «two-rooms» from 3500 zlotys, «three-rooms» from 4000-5000 zlotys. 

It is important to understand now for what purposes you move to Warsaw. Now the city is very crowded. If there is no purpose to go to the capital, I recommend to consider the suburbs, small cities. 

The collapse of housing in Warsaw has already occurred. «My team has 40 rental requests per hour. To realize all of them is physically unrealistic. We get a lot of rent requests for a month or two. There’s no such housing anymore. 

Some good news: sometimes old rental rates come across. For example, a striking example: a chic «two-room» with a parking lot was recently commissioned at the price of 2700 PLN with all payments. It’s a miracle, and that’s all.

Summarizing, I want to say that it is still possible to rent an apartment in Warsaw. However, tenants will have to be more flexible in their requirements, make more of an effort in their search and find some bargaining chips when negotiating with the owner of the apartment. 

«I practically begged the realtor to schedule a showing of this apartment as soon as possible»

Marina and her family moved to Warsaw on February 23, exactly the day before the whole world changed. She began to look for an apartment at once, even though her husband’s company provided apartments rented for a month. 

— We were a little naive and thought we still had time to find and choose (!) accommodation. My husband and I started by going to different parts of Warsaw to find out which one we liked and where we wanted to live. The apartments rented by the company were located in Mokotów, near a large shopping center. We walked around the area a lot, and we thought we could still find something better. 

On the outskirts of the city there is the beautiful area of Wilanów with modern residential complexes, wide streets and beautiful playgrounds. But it is really far from the city center, where my husband needs to go to work every day. By tram (which is the fastest transport in Warsaw during rush hour) the road took about 50 minutes one way.

Another area with an island of modern residential complexes is Wola. The most beautiful part of it is the Odolany neighborhood. No less beautiful, and because of it, very popular, is the area of Żoliborz. This is perhaps one of the most expensive and beautiful districts of the Polish capital (in my opinion only). 

There are many other districts: Śródmiejście, Torgówek, Ursynów, Ochota, Praga-Południe, etc. It was not possible to go over everything in a few days. We decided to start searching, and then decide on the go.

We had a realtor for our husband’s company. I also contacted three more different realtors, to whom I announced my request: I need a three-bedroom apartment in a modern residential complex for a family with two children. But we, as tenants, obviously weren’t the dream of apartment owners: I somehow joked that we collected «all combos»: we have a family, two children (not too big) and a dog. With such a «bouquet», it is very difficult to find a really good apartment.

Of course, I monitored the rental sites myself, too. Sometimes I dumped my options to realtors — they called the owners. Most often, the stumbling block was either the price, the dog, or a completely botched repair. Despite the fact that there are a lot of dog owners in Warsaw, the owners of apartments do not really want to allow tenants with animals. 

At the same time, the situation on the rental market was heated. More and more people came to Warsaw from Ukraine and Belarus, and they all needed housing. The realtors I worked with at first reassured me: «We will find a place for everyone», but after a while they practically stopped responding to messages. Yanina (a realtor I also worked with) once wrote to me: «I went to a meeting, and in an hour I received about 90 direct messages». 

As a result, in 3 days we went to 4 showings, and the fifth option turned out to be the most successful. But I practically begged the realtor to schedule a showing of this apartment as soon as possible (it was clear from the photo that it was suitable for us). I was even ready to leave a deposit right after a meeting with the owner’s realtor to know for sure that this apartment will no longer be shown to other tenants. 

As a result, in addition to the rent, the owner took a deposit in the amount of two months’ rent, plus we paid the services of a realtor from the owner (70% of the rental price) and we had to buy a lot of extra things for the apartment (furniture in the nursery, all dishes, bed linen and towels, etc.). But, I will be honestly, I to the very last moment I was very much worried that it would go south, — I started to breathe only after the contract was signed.

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