Useful information in English
- Types of flats and apartments
The Czech way of describing properties can initially be a little confusing - even if perfectly translated into another language. A good rule to remember is that nothing is included unless specifically detailed.
In most countries an advertisement for a two room flat means a flat with two bedrooms, and most likely a kitchen and a bathroom. In the Czech Republic a two room flat will probably be a flat with two rooms (i.e. a bedroom and a kitchen, or a bedroom and a toilet, etc.)
Understanding Czech flat descriptions
There are several ways of advertising flats in the Czech Republic. Here is a short overview of what they mean most of the time.
1 + 1 This describes a flat with one bedroom and one other room. That other room would usually be a kitchen. A bathroom does not necessarily have to be included.
1 + kk Again, this describes a one bedroom flat. KK stands for a miniature kitchen which usually is not more than a hot plate and a sink.
1 + 0 This term may be used as synonym for 1 + kk. However, most of the time it describes one room only with no kitchen or bathroom whatsoever.
2 + 1 (3 + 1, 4 + 1, ...) This is a flat with two rooms and a kitchen (or three or four rooms respectively). A bathroom is normally included.
Although the terms are used universally, they do not always mean the same thing, so it is risky to rent a place without seeing it. You also need to watch out for poetic wordings in adverts when a property is being rented privately, especially if it is part of a house, converted garage, basement or garden house. The best advice is to make sure that you are very specific when asking what is actually included.
Another possibility to increase the attractiveness of a flat in an ad is to describe it as having a brand new bathroom or kitchen. When you get there you might find out that this will only be available on payment of 6 months’ rent in advance to cover for it. It will then be installed after you move in.
Moreover, don’t expect anything to be included in the apartment, unless it is specifically stated. Usually, there is also no kitchen at all and no lamps in the apartment. You will need to ask about every detail of the flat when contacting the lessor.
- Types of houses and neighbourhoods
Panelaks: During the Communist era hundreds of thousands of panel block apartments, the panelaks, were built in the outskirts of nearly every major city. Apartments in these buildings look exactly the same all over the country – and even all over Eastern Europe – due to their construction by module principle. However, the condition of their interior may vary greatly, even within the same building. Since many of these apartment complexes have not been renovated after their construction, which may date back to the 1950s, their condition really depends on how the previous tenants have taken care of the flat.
Houses: Houses to rent are more likely to be found outside of the big cities and industrial centres in rural areas. They tend to have very thick concrete walls and small rooms, rather than fewer larger ones. After the fall of Communism, many flats and houses were subdivided to increase the availability of rental housing. Because of this, many small flats became even smaller, and family houses got split up to house two or three families.
Neighbourhoods: Neighbourhoods are very patchy in the Czech Republic. For example, a flat in an exclusive part of town can be just a block away from a really run-down area. You need to judge for yourself and have a walk around to get a feel for the location of an individual property.
- The rental market
In some places in the Czech Republic, it can be difficult to find good places to rent at affordable prices. Prague has the largest selection by far, but even there it is not always easy to find an acceptable flat at a reasonable price. However, in contrast to the rest of the Czech Republic people in Prague do have experiences with foreigners and, most of the time, speak English. Outside of the capital be prepared for a couple of months of looking around, visiting and negotiating before you find somewhere to live. When you finally find the right place, make sure you hang onto it!
Average rental rate
As with anywhere, rental costs vary widely across the Czech Republic depending on the area, location and quality of the accommodation. Often there are big differences between rents for similar flats in the same neighbourhoods, so looking around will pay off.
A typical price for a small flat in a small town or village is about 5,000 CZK per month. In bigger cities, like Brno, Ostrava or Olomouc you will have to pay about 7,500 CZK. In Prague, rents start at about 10,000 CZK, with 12,000 CZK being typical. Lots of apartments, however, are rented out for sums a lot higher than that.
Renting requires a bit of planning, lots of compromise and cash up front. We also recommend you consider getting local assistance as this can really help avoid learning the hard (and expensive) way. Most importantly, you will need to gather your reserves of patience and keep cool.
In the free market, the parties may negotiate any period of contract. If no period is stipulated the contract is valid for an indefinite period. The contract must be in writing.
The tenant may cancel the contract at any time by giving three months’ written notice, without stating a reason. The landlord can only cancel the contract for a serious reason, such as the need to use the flat for his own family. It is common to conclude free-market leases for rather short periods, like one or two years. After that the tenant has to leave the flat. If he keeps living in the flat and the lessor does not intervene within 30 days, the contract is automatically extended, normally for another year.
Insist on a written contract
The main thing you need to remember is that everything is negotiable in the Czech Republic. Just make sure you and the lessor agree on having a signed contract at the end of the negotiation. Sometimes private lessors refuse to draw up a contract. As in many countries there is a measure of respect for a written contract, even if in practice the enforcement is difficult on both sides. If someone doesn’t want to give you a written agreement, you should reconsider whether you want to deal with them at all.
Always keep in mind that everything of importance for the rental agreement has to be stated explicitly in the contract. Not just the monthly rent but also dealings with utility costs, if included, have to be stated. In addition, any damage to the flat has to be recorded. If the owner promises to install any equipment in the apartment within the contract, make sure it is actually there the day you want to sign the contract. Otherwise you will have to pay “for the loss”. It might well happen that furniture in the flat is not mentioned in the contract. This might seem to be a stroke of luck, but don't be shocked if the lessor removes it shortly after you moved in.
You will need to pay the landlord a deposit. Don’t count on seeing it again. You may be asked to pay 2 - 3 months rent in advance.
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