For new arrivals in Budapest, finding an apartment at the right price with the right legal conditions can be a real challenge. Finding a landlord who will respect the terms of the lease agreement you’ll sign further adds to this challenge.
There are plenty of real estate agents, management companies and even English-speaking owners advertising properties for an expatriate audience. There is also an increasing number of Facebook groups for Budapest where private owners and companies alike advertise their wares. Accessing the market is not an issue.
Using many different sources to find a new home can make the search process more complex. Conversely, shopping around or renting privately direct from an owner can help make the most of a tenants budget. There are pitfalls, however.
How to rent an apartment in Budapest: prices can suddenly rise
The internet can teach you a fair market price but note that most prices quoted online assume you’ll pay cash. If you ask for an invoice you might find that the original price suddenly rises by up to 40 percent. Similar increases may happen if you mention that your lease contract will be needed for your residence permit application.
Rental income is taxable in Hungary. So if your landlord wants a cash deal or is not too keen on letting you register yourself in his home, it’s safe to assume he has something to hide from the taxman. However, you don’t encounter these landlord-related issues, there are still some potential issues when it comes to the immigration stuff.
How to rent an apartment in Budapest: prove or move
One example is that at the immigration office you may be asked to provide a land registry document (tulajdonilap). This is to prove that the person you’re renting from is indeed the owner, and that there aren’t multiple owners. Any owner has the right to throw you out into the street because they didn’t sign up to you living there.
Another example is that the apartment has not yet been registered with the state database of properties, a legal requirement before a person can be registered at that address. This is typical for new build properties.
An easy way to test this is to ask the landlord to confirm if anyone has had an address card (lakcímkártya) issued for that apartment and, if so, to show you a copy. In the next installment we’ll look at the key contract clauses you should always make sure you have in your lease and what power you have if the landlord isn’t doing what was agreed.