10 Facts About Renting In Europe You Will Be Shocked By
Renting in Europe is usually more complicated than in other countries: to rent an apartment, you need to pay a deposit and provide a reference letter from your previous landlord or an employer. Apartments may be rented out not only without furniture but also without flooring, while landlords may restrict the number of guests a tenant can invite.
However, despite these difficulties, the tenant in Western Europe is much better protected than the one, for example, in Central Asia. The authorities in Europe have more control over rental rates as well. Analysts of the international real estate brokerage Tranio tell about the peculiarities of the rental market in Europe.
1. Rents in Berlin are capped by law.
Authorities in Berlin are trying to stop the rise in rental prices caused by the high demand for apartments. In February 2020, a law was introduced, pursuant to which the owner cannot demand from the tenant the payment higher than is set by the government. This law applies to furnished apartments and apartments rented specifically for short-term rentals. The maximum allowed rent cost is calculated depending on the year of construction of the building, availability of kitchen and elevator, quality of building materials and other parameters. For example, under the law, renting a square meter in the house of 2003-2013 year of construction with central heating and a bathroom cannot exceed 9.8 euros. In fact, finding an apartment of 50 square meters in the German capital for 490 euros per month is next to impossible.
German legislation protects tenants: the owner cannot evict them without good reason. A compelling reason to evict tenants is the owner’s need to live in the apartment himself – if he has no other property in his possession – or the same need for close relatives of the landlord. The longer the tenants have lived in the apartment, the more time the owner must give them to move out. If the tenant has lived for less than five years, they are given three months, from five to eight years – six months, and if more than eight years – a year. Elderly people, people with disabilities, pregnant women and people with small children can ask for a deferral of rent payments.
2. Greece regulates prices for vulnerable social groups.
Students, refugees, and the poor receive increased protection from the Greek government. Thus, during the coronavirus pandemic, the government exempted students from 40% of rent, reimbursing only 20% of that lost value to the owners. “It was a shock for foreign property owners who were buying apartments to generate income, not to be Greek benefactors,” says Alisa Bulgakova, Tranio’s rental property manager in Athens.
Greece also provides for the right of tenants to extend the contract unilaterally for the same price for another two years if the previous contract was for one year. So it is possible that the price the tenants agreed to when moving in will not increase for another five years.
3. In England, tenants do not have to pay commissions to agencies.
In England, there has been a law since 1 June 2019 that prohibits agencies from taking commission from tenants, their services being paid only by the seller. So in London, it is not necessary to look for property owners directly to save on rent. This law, however, does not apply to other parts of the UK.
Also, the government limits the amount of the deposit paid by the tenant to the agency when moving in. It is equal to a 5-6-week rent, depending on the price of the apartment. However, if you negotiate directly with the landlord, the deposit can be reduced to a 2-3-week payment.
4. To rent an apartment in Monaco, you will need a CV.
In Europe, a tenant is protected by law, which makes it rather difficult to evict them. Therefore, owners are particularly demanding when choosing a tenant. They will always ask for proof of their solvency, like a bank statement or a certificate of employment. They may even call and make inquiries about the tenant’s employers or ask for a reference letter from the last place of residence. In Monaco, where the market is small, and demand is very high, tenants normally need to bring a resume in addition to all of the above.
5. In London, a landlord can include cleaning advice in the contract.
The higher the demand in the market, the crazier are the rental conditions. For example, in London, landlords can prescribe a lot of clauses in the contract that tenants have to comply with. Some tenants come across the fact that the tenancy agreements specify the maximum number of guests that can be brought into the house for tea or detergents’ names that must be used during cleaning. Thus the list of tenant obligations can be several times longer than the landlord’s obligations.
6. In Germany, people move into apartments with their own furniture as well as with their own flooring.
Apartments in Germany are usually rented without furniture. In some cases, the tenant may find that there is no kitchen set or even flooring in the apartment. If the previous tenant bought the kitchen or had the flooring laid himself, he is likely to take it with him when he moves out. Or the new tenant will have to buy the kitchen set from the previous tenant.
7. Utility debts in Greece are tied to a tax number, not to housing.
In Greece, when moving into a new apartment, tenants must link utilities to their tax number. If tenants are in debt for electricity or water, the owner is thus protected from the risk of having to pay for them himself.
Private electricity companies in Greece can be a whole other problem. Sometimes people wait for months for the change of name on the electricity bills to that of the tenant’s, which increases the owner’s risk of being in debt. The already costly electricity becomes even more expensive with all sorts of taxes and fees, which sometimes amount to 60% of the electricity bill itself.
For example, you can be billed 40 euros for consumption, and additional 60 euros will be just taxes and fees, the amount of which varies by district and depends on the area of the apartment and floor level. For example, basements and mezzanine floors are subject to a lower tax and fee than upper floors. These fees also include the fee for federal television, which has long been the subject of many debates.
8. In winter you have to pay extra for extra heat.
In many countries, residents maintain cooler temperatures in houses in winter compared to the heat of homes in Eastern Europe. High heating costs encourage people to set the thermostats in the house to the minimum. If you set the temperature higher than 20°C, you have to pay 100-200 Euro extra. In some countries, especially stingy owners put special locks on thermostats and heaters to prevent tenants from increasing the temperature and thus the heating bill.
In Spain and Italy, apartments sometimes have no thermostats at all. Residents keep warm with electric heaters and warm clothes. Some houses have fireplaces, and locals would prefer to use them to save on electricity.
9. No weekends’ subletting for Barcelona and Munich.
In these two cities, the authorities restrict short-term rentals. Therefore, it is impossible for most residents to sublet an apartment to tourists while they are away.
In Munich, it is forbidden to rent out private apartments for a short-term period, and the authorities of Barcelona keep introducing and abolishing this law. In these cities, only licensed apartments may be rented out. And you cannot obtain this license on your own; the apartment must already have a license for rental when you buy it. Such apartments are rarely on sale and quite expensive.
In Berlin, it is also difficult to sublet apartments for a short term, especially if there are already many hotels in the area. Locals who would like to earn money from renting to tourists have to get permission from the local authorities.
The city authorities want to protect local residents this way from an overabundance of tourists, who compete with the natives in the housing market and provoke higher rents. Hotel owners suffered from short-term rentals, as did the state, which did not receive taxes from illegal rentals.
10. In the Italian resorts, houses are rented out by the month.
Similarly, it may be difficult to sublet an apartment to visitors for a couple of days in some Italian resorts. And not because of the law, but due to the habits of local tourists.
In some regions of Italy, it is customary that houses are rented on a monthly basis. This is the case in Tuscan’s Forte dei Marmi, popular among Russians. According to Italian realtors, this trend emerged based on the demands of vacationers from Russia. “Owners adapt for Russian tourists, who make up the majority of tenants”, says Julia Galich, head of Tranio’s rental department. “That is why villas there are rented out for the entire July, the entire August, or for two or three months in a row.”