Even though renting an apartment in Prague is one of the most important and one of the most risky parts of relocating to Prague, many people still want to deal with everything themselves. If you are one of them, read on. We’ve prepared a list of things you should keep in mind when renting an apartment in Prague if you want to make sure you do not run into trouble. This is the first blog in our new “Living in Prague” series.
1. Make sure you get a contract
This rule is simple: No contract = no rights. It is nice that the landlord told you that the monthly rent was 10,000 CZK, but if he comes next month and asks you for 15,000 CZK, it will be your word against his. There is a similar situation when leaving the apartment. It is nice that he promised that you could stay for a year, but if you do not have a contract, he can kick you out anytime.
It is OK to rent an apartment in Prague without a contract if the apartment belongs to your friend or if you do not really care where you live and do not mind moving from place to place in case something happens. On the other hand, if you plan on living in Prague for a longer period of time, and more importantly if you are applying for a visa or for residency in the Czech Republic, you should avoid apartments with no contracts.
Well, you might ask how often that happens that someone offers you an apartment without signing a contract. The answer is that this happens a lot in the case that you are renting just a room in a flat. People usually come and go in shared apartments so after a while, no one really knows who signed the contract with the landlord, and if someone even did at all. It does not really happen with whole apartments, and the only cases we remember from our own experience were landlords who did not want to pay taxes on the rent income.
2. Things to focus on in the contract
Hooray! You were given the contract to look over, great! Let’s now make sure that the contract follows the Czech Civil Code and that there is nothing bad hidden in it. Always ask for an English version of the contract, if not possible, just make sure you have a Czech person do a Czech check. 😉 However, we know that sometimes, you are in such a hurry to rent a flat in Prague that you do not really want to wait to find someone to check or translate the contract. So, you might ask yourself: “Do I trust the landlord? Do I trust someone I have never met before enough to sign something I do not understand?”. If your answer is yes, alright, just do not complain if something goes wrong in the future.
When renting an apartment in Prague on your own, which details should you consider in the contract? Here is the list:
√ Check ownership of the flat
Checking ownership of the flat is always the first thing we do for our clients. The main reason we do this is to find out who is the official owner (not only the lessor) of the flat which is very important, especially for those who are applying for a visa or residence permit. All the paperwork (proof of accommodation, consent to conduct business for your Zivno/Trade License, etc.) must be signed by the official landlord.
The record in the Cadaster/Land Register should match the record with the head of the contract. Well, how do you check the Cadaster? Just follow the steps bellow:
- Go to the online Cadaster website.
- Click the house icon with “Vyhledat stavbu” sign.
- Enter “Praha” (or any other city you are renting flat in) into “Název/Kód obce:”
- Click “Vyhledání podle ulice a č.p. / č.or.”
- Put your street name into “Ulice”
- Put your house number into “/orientační:”
- Click “Vyhledat” – search
If you filled everything in well, you’ll get to a verification page where you must retype the code you see. Do not panic if it does not work out the first time, sometimes even we must try several times because the codes sometime act a little strange. 🙂
If you make it through the code page, you´ll get to a page listing all the owners of the building.
If there is only one owner and the name of the owner matches the name in your rental contract, everything is perfect! Unfortunately, it is not always that easy. As long as you find the name from your rental contract somewhere in the list, you should be fine. If you do not find the name there, ask the landlord to explain you why is that so.
√ Duration of the contract
Simple, just make sure the duration of the contract is the same in the contract as what you agreed on with the landlord.
√ Leaving notice
You can always leave the contract before its end, even if you signed a year or longer lease. The way to do that is a so called leaving notice. According to the Czech Civil Code you need to give notice at least 3 months in advance, which means as long as you notify the landlord in time , you can leave the contract whenever you need to. If you are not sure how long you will be staying in Prague, ask the landlord to shorten the leaving notice. Two months is also usually acceptable and it will give you more flexibility. On the other hand, remember that the landlord can use the same leaving notice as you to ask you to leave the flat.
The standard when renting an apartment in Prague is paying a security deposit in the amount equal to one month’s rent (either including or excluding utilities, depends on the landlord). Some landlords ask for two month’s rent, which mainly applies in the case that the apartment is newly refurbished and/or is fully furnished with nice furniture. Anything else is not really common.
IMPORTANT: Check what happens to your deposit if you leave the contract prematurely. Some landlords include a special paragraph saying that you will lose your deposit in such a case in their contracts. That is basically illegal – you can not lose your deposit if you adhere to the code when giving a leaving notice because the landlord has enough time to find new tenants. Of course, if you want to terminate the contract immediately, this kind of penalty makes sense.
Also, make sure there is no “cleaning fee” or something like that being deducted from your deposit when you leave the apartment.
Another very important thing is to ask for clarity about when exactly your deposit be returned to you. Some landlords include in their contracts that your deposit will be returned only once the final calculation of utilities is done (which might take several months).
Landlords are, according to the Civil Code, not allowed to ban you from having pets in their apartments as long as the pet does not destroy the apartment. However, most landlords still include such an article (banning pets) in their contracts though.
√ Check the landlord
Well, it´s great that you have checked the ownership of the apartment and all of the details in the contract, but everything would be useless if the contract was not signed by the owner 🙂 So ask the owner to show you his ID for the same reason he wants to see your passports. The following data should match in the contract and on the ID:
– first name and surname
– date of birth
– permanent address in the Czech Republic
If all is OK , go ahead and sign the contract. If it is not, ask the landlord for explanation and for correction.
3. Always ask for receipts
As mentioned above, you are almost always asked to pay the first month’s rent and one month’s rent deposit in cash when signing a contract and before moving in. It is completely ok, just make sure you always get a receipt for a cash payment. The receipt should always include the following information:
- to whom you paid (at least full name, ideally also date of birth and ID number)
- how much you paid (both in numbers and words)
- who paid
- what was the purpose of the payment (i.e. deposit, rent for December 2016, etc.)
- signature of the person who received the money
4. Try all the keys
First of all, it is important to do a final check of the flat and contract to make sure that everything is OK. Second, you will not want to end up standing outside of your apartment for a couple of hours with your grocery bags waiting for your landlord to come and give you the right keys. We do not say that happens often, but especially if the landlord owns several properties or have just made fresh copies of the keys for you, things like that can and do happen.
Always ask for manuals for all electrical and gas appliances in the apartment or at least ask the landlord to explain how everything works. First, check that everything really works and you´ll prevent any unnecessary future costs that could be blamed on you. Say for example that you know how washing machines work so you do not want to bother the landlord with such questions. If you are for example used to washing 5 kgs of clothes at once and the washing machine in the flat is only suitable for 4 kgs you very likely destroy the washing machine quickly, and you will be the one buying a new one 🙂 We think it is worth asking for the manuals 🙂
Well, those are the main things you should keep in mind when renting an apartment in Prague. We wish you good luck and hope this article helped you decide if you are going to try your luck finding an apartment on your own. If you need some help or just have a question, please feel free to go to our Rent a flat in Prague service page, chat with us below, or contact us via the contact form on the right or go to contacts to call us or write an e-mail. We’ll be happy to help!
On behalf of the whole Move To Prague team
Jan & Daria