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For a new arrival in Budapest, finding an apartment at the right price with the right legal conditions and, most importantly, with a landlord who will respect the terms of the lease agreement you’ll sign, can be a real 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, but conversely, being willing to really shop around and renting privately direct from an owner can also help the tenant get the most property for their budget. There are pitfalls, however.
How to rent an apartment in Budapest: prices can suddenly rise
The internet can teach you what is a fair market price but it’s also important to note that most monthly rents quoted online assume it’s going to be a cash deal. If you ask for an invoice or even state that you’ll need to show your lease contract at the immigration office for your residence permit application, you might find that the original price suddenly rises by up to 40 per cent.
Rental income is taxable in Hungary, folks, and 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. Assuming you do a deal on price that’s to your satisfaction and the landlord’s okay for you to register yourself at the address, there are still some potential issues when it comes to the immigration stuff.
How to rent an apartment in Budapest: prove or move
One classic example is that at the immigration office you may be asked to prove, by way of a document from the land registry (tulajdonilap), that the person you’re renting from is indeed the owner, is perhaps not just one of multiple owners, any which of whom might have 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.