Though owning a flat or home is important to most Croatians, many, especially younger people, rent apartments. There is a wide variety of rental properties available for short and long term lease, through private owners and through rental agencies. It's not uncommon to pay more for an apartment managed by a rental agency, as these often cater specifically to foreigners visiting Croatia either for business or pleasure.
Finding accommodation can be difficult if you do not have at least basic Croatian language skills. Although most people speak at least basic English, advertisements for apartment rentals will almost always be in Croatian, unless they are catered specifically to foreigners or tourists.
There are usually a variety of apartments available throughout the city in various neighborhoods, so you can choose which area is best for you based on your priorities and personal needs. Keep in mind that apartments located in the very center of Zagreb will generally be more expensive, as will flats and homes in the hills of northern Zagreb.
Property prices are typically quoted in euro and depend on several factors, including size, age of the building and furnishings, access to parking, and location. Quoted rent usually does not include utilities. It should generally include all income taxes, but it's a good idea to double check with the landlord before signing a contract.
Area is quoted in square meters. Sometimes properties are described in terms of rooms. For example, a three-room apartment will have two bedrooms and a living room in addition to a kitchen and bathroom.
One of the best resources for finding apartments online is classifieds websites such as Njuškalo and Oglasnik. Another great option is to visit websites specifically dedicated to real estate. A couple of examples are Centar Nekretnina and Oglas, which also have an English version in addition to other foreign languages.
Newspapers are not commonly useful a source for classifieds or real estate listings. Instead, make use of the classifieds sites listed above.
There are often public bulletin boards in cafes and near university buildings. Though these are generally dedicated to advertising goods, services, and events, you might find advertisements for roommates, especially in areas popular with students.
Another option is to work with a real estate agent who will guide you through the entire process, from finding the perfect flat to signing your contract. There are several real estate agencies in Zagreb that are accustomed to working with expats relocating to Croatia for a variety of reasons. They usually offer long-term rentals, but in some cases may offer short-term rentals for visitors staying one to three months.
Most agents charge a commission based on the monthly rent, though the exact percentage can vary from agency to agency. Since there are several agents in Zagreb, it's a good idea to browse their real estate listings, testimonials, and even make initial contact before deciding which agent to work with. Agents based in Zagreb include:
Note that Zagreb West also has a sister company, Zagreb Relocation, specifically designed to help expats with every aspect of their move to Croatia. Services include booking temporary accommodation, home search, school search, language courses, and "Getting to know Croatia" courses.
If you're able to, and especially if you're renting the apartment yourself without the help of an agent, it's wise to see the apartment before you sign a contract. This is your opportunity to meet the landlord, get a feel for the neighborhood, and inspect the apartment itself.
Be aware that "newly remodeled" apartments in Zagreb are often done so hastily and with very cheap materials, so it's worth poking around a bit to make sure everything is intact and functioning. This is also your chance to ask any questions you might have or confirm important details about rent, included utilities, the length of your lease, and the other terms of your rental agreement.
After deciding on an apartment, you will sign a contract that establishes, in writing, the terms of the rental agreement. For the contract to be valid and legally binding, both the lessor and the lessee (landlord and tenant) must sign the contract in the presence of a public notary.
In theory, every rental agreement should be accompanied by a formal contract, however, in practice, many apartments in Croatia are rented out without a contract. This allows the landlord to avoid paying income tax on the rental, which in turn lowers the monthly rent.
Though locals sometimes rent apartments without signing a contract, this is not advisable for foreigners. Having the terms of the agreement in writing will prevent future mishaps and confusion. Additionally, foreign nationals applying for a temporary stay visa must show that they have secured accommodation. If renting an apartment, a copy of your contract and proof of your landlord's ownership will be required.
According to the Law on Leasing Apartments (Zakon o najmu stanova), the tenant may terminate a lease before it ends, but he or she must notify the owner in writing no less than three months before the intended move-out date. Specific stipulations regarding lease termination should be outlined in your contract.
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