Whether we want to or not, we can meet scammers everywhere in the world. Even though we tend to present the Czech Republic as “a paradise to behold” (as we sing in the national anthem), we must educate you about our country with all the facts.
So, yes, even in the Czech Republic you may encounter scammers who will try to cheat you in, for example, a rental agreement. How not to fall for them? What to look out for when looking for a rental?
1. Not a penny without a contract
“Send us a deposit, we will send you the keys by a courier. We will sign the contract when we’re back from the vacation.” Unfortunately, even some of our team members faced this type of fraud when looking for their own rental apartment before joining ReloCare.
We understand that you want (and often need) to find a place to live as soon as possible, but we strongly recommend that you don’t rush things. Definitely don’t send any deposits or first rent to anyone without a signed contract. The keys may not be on the way, and the apartment may not even exist.
Sometimes it is cheaper to stay a few more nights in temporary accommodation rather than to push for a quick rental deal that could end up in you losing your money.
2. Don’t let yourself be pressured about payment
In general, beware if the landlord tries to put pressure on you. They may claim that they have more people interested in the apartment, which is often true given the real estate situation in Prague. But never believe someone who claims that another bidder is on the way with a cash deposit, and will give you priority if you pay immediately.
Insist that you want to sign a contract before any payment, which will be checked first by a lawyer or even a relocation agency like us. If this procedure is not to their liking, you are definitely not missing out. At most, you will save yourself a lot of trouble.
3. Be careful who you rent from
We have mentioned checking the contract because it is possible that the person you are negotiating the lease with does not have the right to rent the apartment at all. If they themselves have rented the apartment from the owner, they need the owner’s permission to rent it to someone else. At that point, they are the tenants and you would become a subtenant.
Even if they have this consent from the owner, unfortunately the Czech Civil Code does not set out the terms of the subletting agreement very precisely. Often these contracts favour tenants over subtenants.
You can find out whether the person you are negotiating the lease with is the owner of the flat from the Land Registry, which anyone can access online for free. Or ask a professional to check your contract.
Unfortunately, you have no way of knowing from the Land Registry whether the tenant has the owner’s permission to sublet the apartment. For that you need to see their own contract with the owner, and even then it may not be clear from it. We therefore generally do not recommend entering into such a contract.