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Access to housing

EU or EFTA Member State citizens may either rent or acquire the ownership right to flats under the principles which apply to Polish citizens – the Polish provisions do not discriminate against these citizens in terms of their access to housing or instruments which that support renting or purchase.

The programme "Mieszkanie Plus" (literally "Flat Plus") has been in place since 2016 to provide for renting a flat with an option to acquire it later on (some "Mieszkanie+" flats are built as part of social rental housing undertakings for which separate rules for the allocation of flats have been planned, i.e. for flats built under market economy conditions and financed by PFR Nieruchomości S.A.). Flats are built in cooperation between PFR Nieruchomości S.A. (PFRN)[1] and local self-government authorities, private undertakings and state-owned companies. The programme may be joined by any commune which has land available for housing purposes.

Financing is provided for the housing projects by investment funds managed by PFRN, with no state budget funds involved. All persons who demonstrate that they are able of paying the rent will be entitled to apply for a flat. If the number of persons interested exceeds the number of available flats, respective self-government authorities will establish relevant priority criteria with preferences for inter alia families who do not own/co-own a flat or have cooperative ownership title to their flats, persons who pay their income tax in the commune concerned, persons who bring up children, or elderly or disabled persons.

Residents of a given commune who meet certain requirements (including the income criterion) may apply for renting a communal flat. These flats have low rental fees but they normally offer a lower standard. With the State's objective to make communes have as large housing resources at their disposal as possible, a social and communal housing support programme is being implemented at present under which communes may apply for non-reimbursable financing from the State budget to build flats that will be added to their communal housing resources. These flats are built specifically for low-income persons most in need. For detailed information on the rent application procedure and eligibility criteria please contact the registered seat of a relevant commune.

Flats with rental fees below the market level are also constructed by social housing associations which operate in approx. 200 cities. The social rental housing segment meets the housing needs of average earners. Applicants for renting such flats must meet specific income criteria (depending on the location of the flat and the size of their household) and must not have any other flat. They must also pay in a contribution which is equivalent to 30% of the value of the flat. The contribution is refunded upon the lapse of the rental period. In order to create such dwellings, social housing associations, communal companies and housing cooperatives may apply for preferential reimbursable financing subsidised from the state budget.

As of 1 July 2020, around 10,200 flats have been delivered for use through the market segment and "Mieszkanie+" social package, with further ca. 14,800 dwellings under construction.

Beginning on 1 January 2019, tenants of new flats and revitalised flats (built as part of cooperation between investors and communes) will be able to apply for rental allowances. The allowances will be granted to persons who meet certain requirements relating to inter alia income, property or use of the flat. The amount of the allowance will depend on the number of people in the household and will be region specific (i.e. it will depend on the cost of building a flat in a specific location). Selection of tenants will be the responsibility of the commune. The criteria established by the commune (e.g. income, number of children, disability, economic migration) will be used to compile a list of tenants with whom the investor will conclude rental contracts, provided that the tenants can demonstrate rental credibility (i.e. ability to pay the rent regularly). The rental allowance will be granted on the condition that the monthly income in a single-person household does not exceed 100% of the average salary in the national economy (ca. PLN 4,918 - EUR 1,131.14 in 2020). The threshold will be increased by 40 percentage points (ca. PLN 1,967 - EUR 452.41) per each additional person in the household. The allowance granted will be applied in a fixed amount for a period of 15 years following the tenant's application to the relevant communal office. By the end of June 2020, communes concluded agreements regarding 33 construction projects covered by the rental allowance framework, under which a total of 1,056 flats will receive allowances..

Housing programmes offered by the Polish government are addressed to persons of various incomes.  However, they are not addressed directly to citizens – i.e. the government provides financial support to investors, but does not run any selection of flat tenants itself.

To check availability of social rental housing, potential applicants should contact relevant social housing associations or communal companies in charge of housing matters. Information on rent-to-own flats offered as part of the PFRN initiative can be found on the company's website or the dedicated website of the "Mieszkanie+" programme. For more information on renting a flat from communal housing resources, contact the communal office where you live.


Looking for a flat

Adverts of flats to rent or purchase can be found in newspapers (e.g. in the Monday and Friday issue of "Rzeczpospolita" – in the supplement "Nieruchomości mieszkaniowe") and in the Internet. Accommodation can also be found by placing own adverts in newspapers and Internet portals or through a real estate agent. If the latter option is used, expenses related to looking for a flat will be increased by the commission paid to the real estate agent. When renting a flat, the commission is normally equivalent to the monthly rent, and when buying a flat - it is ca. 2-3% of the purchase price.

If you are looking for a flat on your own, you can contact the sales office of a developer of your choice and check the project in legal terms, i.e. view the land and mortgage register and the National Court Register to check whether the developer has a building permit and is not bankrupt etc.

When buying a flat, you can use the services of a real estate agent (e.g. a real estate agency) or sign a contract with a developer or a housing cooperative. Most developers request the first payment to be made within 3-7 days from the date of the contract.

Before your real estate agent undertakes any activities, you should first sign an agency contract. The agency contract should specify what specific activities the real estate agent should perform and what remuneration he or she is entitled to. The contract should also specify the real estate agent who is responsible for its performance and should include a declaration regarding an active civil liability insurance for any damage which may be caused in relation to performing the agent’s activities. The agency contract is the so called duty-of-care contract rather than a result-based contract. Therefore, under such a contract, the agent undertakes e.g. to look for a flat, not to actually find it.


Purchasing or renting a flat

In Poland, the purchase of any kind of real estate  should be confirmed by an agreement concluded before a notary in the form of a notarial deed.

A rental agreement may be concluded for a definite or indefinite period of time. The Act on the protection of the rights of tenants, communal housing resources and on amending the Civil Code includes a catalogue of causes for terminating a rental agreement. The landlord may cancel a rental agreement if the tenant is in default of payment of the rent for at least three complete payment periods, if the tenant has rented, sub-rented or transferred the flat (or its part) for use free of charge without the required written approval from the landlord, or if the tenant has seriously violated the house regulations. The termination notice should be made in writing and specify the cause for termination. The landlord may terminate a rental agreement upon serving a 1-month notice, with the effect at the end of the calendar month.

The tenant may terminate a rental agreement signed for an indefinite period of time at any moment and for any reason (or without stating any reasons) by serving a termination notice to the landlord.

Before signing the agreement, the landlord may request the tenant to pay a security deposit. The deposit serves as security of any potential claims related to the use of the flat beyond normal wear and tear as well as any amounts due under the rental agreement contract (the deposit must not exceed the equivalent of twelve monthly rents). The deposit is refunded within one month from the date the flat is vacated or the tenant acquires its ownership, upon deducting any receivables due to the landlord under the rental agreement.


Prices for flats and costs of rental

In Poland, prices for flats differ depending on the location and type of the housing market. Flats that can be bought on the primary market are normally available in a standard that requires finishing. There is also a large secondary market with flats in various standards and locations.

In Q1 2020, flat prices grew both on the primary and secondary market. In Warsaw, the average transaction price for 1 m2 of a flat on the primary market was PLN 9,819 (EUR 2,258), an increase by 11.9% compared to the previous year. In Gdańsk, 1 m2 cost an average of PLN 8,741 (EUR 2,010), and in Gdynia – PLN 8,251 (EUR 1,898). Transaction prices higher than PLN 8,000 (EUR 1,800) were reported in Kraków – PLN 8,356 (EUR 1,922) and Wrocław – PLN 8,354 (EUR 1,921). In smaller provice capitals (Zielona Góra, Kielce), 1 m2 of a flat on the primary market was in the region of PLN 5,000-5,500 (EUR 1,200-1,300).

In Q1 2020, the highest secondary market price was reported in Warsaw and amounted to PLN 9,705 (EUR 2,232) for 1m2, representing an increase by 7.9%. Flat prices on the secondary market were high also in Gdańsk – 8,347 PLN (1,920 EUR) for m2, 13.6% more than in the previous year, and Gdynia – PLN 7,700 (EUR 1,771). Transaction prices higher than PLN 7,000 (EUR 1,600) were reported also in Kraków – PLN 7,766 (EUR 1,786) and Wrocław – PLN 7,315 (EUR 1,682). A flat could be bought on the secondary market for less PLN 5,000 (EUR 1,200) for 1 m2 in Kielce and Zielona Góra.

Rental fees differ from city to city, and depend also on the standard and surface of the flat. The highest rents are in Warsaw and other large cities.

The average monthly rent for a 38-60 m² flat in Warsaw was PLN 2,713 (EUR 624) as of May 2020. Gdańsk was Poland's second most expensive city in this respect, with the average monthly rent reaching PLN 2,193 (EUR 504) and marking one of the highest price increases on the housing market in recent years. In Kraków, the average monthly rent exceeded PLN 2,024 (EUR 466), and in Wrocław it was PLN 2,041 (EUR 469). The lowest monthly rents were reported in Bydgoszcz – PLN 1,586 (EUR 365), and Łódź – PLN 1,708 (EUR 393).

The rent rates were lower than the year before, which was largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rents for the same category of flats differ significantly depending on the distance from the city centres. The rates quoted above do not include costs of utilities (e.g. gas, electricity, heating or water), which are normally not included in the rent.



[1] PFRN is a subsidiary company of Polski Fundusz Rozwoju (Polish Development Fund) which also offers flat rentals as part of the "Fundusz mieszkań na wynajem" (Flat Rental Fund) initiative in Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków, Piaseczno, Poznań, Warsaw and Wrocław.

Text last edited on: 04/2021