Finding reasonably priced rental housing in Prague has become increasingly difficult over the past several years, reaching the point where the word “crisis” is often used by analysts, politicians, and real estate professionals when describing the situation in the Czech capital. Most people who have faced the task of finding a property to rent in recent years would enthusiastically agree that it’s not the most enjoyable experience they’ll have in Prague and are often frustrated by just how long it can take.
You may have heard from Czechs or expats about “the good ole days” that were around not long ago, when you could find a two-bedroom apartment almost anywhere in Prague for under 15,000kc per month. Of course those days are long gone due to the steady stream of people moving into Prague to take advantage of the robust job market, combined with a lack of newly developed housing. The demand has created a real estate bubble that has made housing prices increase by 34% over a three year period, according to an article in The Financial Times.
To make things more difficult, the problem isn’t always about the price of the property, but about the fierce competition amongst potential renters vying for apartments, making the search that much more difficult. It’s not abnormal for a renter to need several weeks of non-stop searching to secure an apartment. This can mean visiting 15 to 20 different properties before finally finding the right one which not only works for the renter, but also has an owner who wants you to live there. As a result, the process can be a bit maddening and a serious test of one’s patience.
So what can someone looking to rent a property do to increase their chances of success? Below is a bit of advice to help clients find housing in these competitive times.
Being guided by a local expert that is established in the Prague real estate market can be a massive advantage for potential renters. These more experienced consultants often know about properties which will be available but are not on the market yet, meaning clients can have first shot at a property before others do. They’ll also help in guiding the negotiation and lease agreement process, which is important, as you need a reliable agent to ease communication with the owner and expediently get the contract signed.
Many people come to Prague with a focus to live in one specific area - quite often Vinohrady, Karlin, or Stare Mesto-- the most popular areas of the city for expats due to the many restaurants, cafes, culture, and parks in these neighborhoods. These are fantastic places to live, but of course everybody wants to live here, making it more expensive and incredibly challenging to find a place without paying a premium.
You should consider other areas of the city that could make sense terms of distance to work, local amenities, and neighborhood charm. You might be surprised at what’s out there which tick all these boxes.
A few interesting areas to consider are Vrsovice, Hradcany, or Vysocany - all family friendly neighborhoods with local appeal and good public transport connections at a cost and competition level that are far less than the more famous parts of the city. Whether you decide on living outside your preferred area or not, it’s at least worth a trip to see a property in this area to experience it firsthand and see what’s out there.
Due to the completion for properties in Prague now, owners often have dozens of renters vying to secure their apartment. This allows them to be able to choose the renter they believe would be the best person to have live there and someone they can rely on to follow the house rules and pay the rent on time.
This is why it is vitally important to make a great first impression, both when you make the appointment to set up the viewing and when you are there to meet the owner or the representative agent. Giving lots of compliments about the property, projecting an agreeable demeanor, and showing your commitment to a long-term stay in Prague will help your bid to get the place.
Also, be wary about negotiating directly with the owner right away. It’s not typical to negotiate the price of property rentals in the Czech Republic during your first meeting with them, so we recommend all discussions be done carefully and with sensitivity to avoid losing the apartment.
Once you’ve found a place you really like and which is within your budget and desired location, it’s time to go and get it! Don’t wait too long, or you might lose it to one of the many people competing for apartments in Prague nowadays.
While you don’t have to decide immediately at the viewing, it’s recommended to tell the agent/owner that you are very interested and that you plan to make a decision soon (within 24 hours is highly recommended, or sooner).
It can also be helpful to ask them to notify you if someone else is interested so you can make your decision immediately before losing it. Either way, decisiveness is often a necessity in Prague property hunting nowadays, so be prepared to act quickly!
Once you’ve found a place you like and the owner agrees to rent to you, there is still the process of arranging and signing the lease, and then taking possession of the property. You should either be familiar with the Czech civil code for renters or compare the contract to that of a friend’s contract to know what is a standard inclusion into a contract and what isn’t.
It’s also good to know the procedure of when you should pay (after the contract has been signed by both sides), what you should pay (first month’s rent, security deposit, and perhaps a real estate agency fee), and who you should pay (the owner and perhaps the real estate agent).
On move in day it is important to do a “walk through” of the apartment with the owner to note down any damages, write down the utility meter readings, and ask questions related to services in the house such as garbage, mail collection, parking, etcetera. This check-in document will help make sure you are not paying for anything extra when you leave, such as damages you did not cause or utility expenses you did not incur.
Following the advice above will help make your home search in Prague as efficient and successful as possible, and is certain to help save you a bit of pain along the way. Eurohome offers our expertise and services to guide you along throughout the process. Whether you decide to contact us or go at it on your own, we wish you a happy hunt to find the perfect place to live in Prague!
Eurohome Czech Republic is an international relocation service company and can help you with all of your relocation needs, as well as offering household goods moving services, destination services, school search, and immigration assistance. Contact us if you have any questions or are interested in having us help with your relocation in the Czech Republic.