Property purchase in Poland
- Property purchase in Poland
- Buying Apartment
- Buying a House
- Buying Land
- Property Due Diligence
- Polish Property Registers
- Mortgage in Poland
- Property Purchase and Tax
- Buying Property by Foreigner
- Property lease
- Construction Law
Real Estate Market in Poland
For several years now, the Polish real estate market has seen a steady and high growth in the number of transactions that has mainly been driven by robust demand for properties for housing and investment purposes. Buying property in Poland involves many formalities, requires the knowledge of numerous legal regulations and the local market. This translates into increased demand for legal services relating to real estate transactions.
Buying Property in Poland – Key Facts
|Can foreigner buy a property in Poland?
|Property search websites
|Medium prices of properties in Poland
|Standard broker commission in Poland
|Majority of brokers charge 2.0 – 3.0%, however 4.0 – 6.0 % may also be encountered on the market
|Property purchase taxes
|Notarial fees depend on number of factors however for the purchase of house or apartment, the following table would apply:
|Land and Mortgage Register – registration fee
|Real Estate and residence in Poland
|Ownership of real estate in Poland does not entitle to residency in Poland but may be considered as one of the criterial when evaluating temporary or permanent residence
|Usual stages of property conveyancing
|Usual payment methods
|Electronic land registry
How to buy property in Poland?
To buy a property in Poland you need to conclude notarial purchase agreement in front of the notary public. Upon execution of the agreement by the parties you acquire ownership of property. The transaction is registered by notary in the public land register. The buyer shall also report the purchase to several institutions.
Can foreigner buy property in Poland?
Yes, foreigners are allowed to buy properties in Poland. EEA citizens and companies (EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) are not restricted, also with regards to land purchase. While other nationals may be required to obtain permit from Ministry of Internal Affairs. Purchase of apartment predominantly does not require a permit regardless of nationality.
Types of property transactions
- Buying an apartment
- Buying a house
- Buying a land, incl. agricultural land
- Buying a commercial property
- Sale & Leaseback
- Buying real estate company
Property purchase process in Poland – stages
Stage 1 – researching property legal status prior to transaction
Before you execute a transaction to buy a property, you should first research the legal status of the property.
The research should especially include at least:
- the seller’s title to the property,
- the existence of limited real rights and
- other third-party claims and rights,
- planning regulations,
- historic conservation protection,
- compliance with building and construction laws.
The scope of the research depends on the type and the value of the transaction. For instance, in the case of simple transactions concerning apartments, the research can be limited to the elimination of the basic risks. This is done through the verification of basic documents and the study of records in the publicly available property registers. In the case of the purchase of or an investment in commercial real estate, the property is usually researched in the course of a detailed process referred to as a due diligence that, in addition to the legal aspects of the property, covers commercial issues, property valuation and the inspection of the technical condition of the property.
Property research process also involves verification whether a foreign buyer will be obliged to obtain a special permits i.e. permit to buy real estate it, or it will be possible to benefit from one of the exemptions.
Stage 2 – preliminary property purchase agreement and the final property purchase agreement
In most cases, the execution of the final property sale agreement without first signing the preliminary agreement is either impossible or inadvisable for legal and business reasons. In practice, real estate purchase transactions are typically divided into the following stages:
- the execution of a preliminary sale agreement that comprises at least:
- the essential provisions of the final sale agreement, that is the designation and description of the property and its price,
- the conditions that one or both parties are required to fulfill to ensure that the final sale agreement is executed,
- the fulfillment of the agreed conditions by the parties (e.g. obtaining the consents of various public bodies, obtaining bank financing by the buyer, reclassification of the land, obtaining a preliminary planning decision),
- the execution of the final property sale agreement.
Stage 3 – post-closing actions – obligations after the purchase of a property
The handover of the property
Once the sale agreement is executed, the seller is required to hand over the property to the buyer. The handover of the property usually involves an on-site inspection of the property and the delivery of items necessary to enter the property, such as keys or an access card. The parties should confirm the handover of the property by signing a handover certificate. Among others, the certificate contains a description of the condition of the property at the time of the handover.
The moment of the handover of the property is crucial from the legal perspective. In accordance with legal regulations, as soon the property is sold, all benefits (e.g. income from rent) and burdens (e.g. operating expenses), as well as the risk of accidental loss or damage of the property pass to the buyer.
The handover of documents relating to the property
In addition, the seller should provide the buyer with the necessary documents concerning the property, including a maintenance logbook for the property, energy performance certificate of the building or documentation relating to all executed lease agreements.
Filing an application for an entry in the land and mortgage register
After buying a property, the buyer should apply to the court to be entered in the land and mortgage register as the owner of the property. The application may be filed by the buyer in person or by a Polish notary instructed by the buyer right after the notarial act is signed. Entries in the register are usually done within couple of weeks, however waiting time may be longer in major cities.
Reporting the transaction for real estate tax purposes
Buyers often assume that the registration for the purposes of the real estate tax takes place automatically upon the execution of the sale agreement. Unfortunately, they are wrong. A real estate buyer is required to report the purchase of a property for the purposes of the real estate tax to the city (municipality) administrative authorities proper for the location of the property using a dedicated form – the form should be submitted within 14 days from the transaction.
Executing contracts with utility suppliers
When a property is bought, contracts with utility suppliers are not automatically transferred to the buyer. Usually, the new owner is required to sign new contracts. Utility suppliers (electricity and water suppliers, sewage entities) usually require a property handover certificate specifying meter readings. In some cases, a contract can be transferred / assigned, but to make that happen the buyer and the seller will need to visit the offices of the given supplier (e.g. Internet or cable TV provider).
Notifying leaseholders that the property has been sold
If the space within the property is leased, the buyer will need to notify the leaseholders that the owner of the property has changed. The buyer becomes the landlord in respect of the leased space by operation of law, without needing to sign a new lease agreement or an amending annex to an agreement executed by the seller.
Notifying the housing community or cooperative that the property has been sold
If you bought a property that is a part of a larger complex, for instance, an apartment building, you will need to report the sale to the housing community or cooperative.
Taking out an insurance against fire and other random events for the property and an insurance against third-party liability for the buyer is not mandatory, but it is recommended.
Other obligations resulting from the type or circumstances of a transaction
The above list is just an example of obligations the buyer will need to fulfill. Depending on the type and circumstances of the transaction, the buyer may be required to perform other actions as well, which are not listed above (e.g. actions related to the agricultural tax, the right to perpetual usufruct, its conversion into ownership).
Buying property in Poland – Agreements
If you want to buy a property in Poland, you will need to execute an agreement (usually a sale agreement) in the legal form of a notarial deed drawn up by a Polish civil-law notary. In many cases, you may also be required to enter into other contracts, in addition to the sale agreement. The type of the additional contracts will depend on the type of the property about to be purchased and the stage in negotiations. You can read more about the agreements you may encounter when buying property here.
1. Property reservation agreement
A reservation agreement is typically executed in the case of property is sold through a real estate agent (real estate agency). By virtue of a reservation agreement, the seller the property undertakes not to sell it to other person for a specified period of time. A reservation agreement should include, among others, the property designation, the sale price, the period of reservation, and the reservation fee (if any). This type of an agreement does not have to be executed in the legal form of a notarial deed (notarial act). It can have the form of an ordinary written contract.
2. Development agreement
The law states that a development agreement should specify with precision:
- the designation and location of the building or the dwelling unit;
- the area and the rooms layout, as well as the scope and the standard of fit-out works to be carried out by the developer;
- the date when the title is to be transferred to the buyer ;
- the price, due payment date, and payment terms;
- the start and end date for the construction of the development project;
- the terms related to the rescission of a development contract, as well as to the refund of money paid by the buyer in the event of rescission;
- the interest and contractual penalties for the parties to a development agreement;
- the method used to measure the area of the dwelling unit or the house.
The law states that all price and fees due to the developer under a development agreement should be paid to an escrow account kept by a bank, however, if:
- the bank keeps an open escrow account, the money deposited in such account is disbursed to the developer once it is ascertained that a given stage of the development project is completed;
- the bank keeps a closed escrow account, the money deposited in such account is disbursed to the developer after the title to the house or the dwelling unit is transferred to the buyer.
After the construction works end and the relevant construction supervision authorities issue the required approvals for the building, the developer hands over the dwelling unit or the house to the buyer in accordance with the terms of the development agreement.
Once the approvals are issued, the developer and the buyer enter into another agreement in the form of a notarial act whereby the title to the house or the apartment is transferred to the buyer.
3. Preliminary property purchase agreement
When the closing of the transaction cannot happen right away, the parties can ensure that the sale of the property will happen at a specific point in the future by executing a preliminary property purchase agreement. A preliminary agreement should set out at least the essential terms of the final property purchase agreement – the exact designation of the property and the sale price. Moreover, a preliminary agreement should specify the date when the final agreement is to be concluded. In absence of the date in the preliminary agreement, the law requires the final agreement to be executed within an appropriate time limit set by the party entitled to seek the execution of the final agreement. If both parties are entitled to seek the execution of the final agreement (which is usually the case) and each of them sets a different date, the date stated by the party who first submitted the relevant statement will prevail. If a year passes from the execution of the preliminary agreement and the date of the execution of the final agreement still has not been set, neither of the parties is entitled to seek the execution of the final agreement.
In many cases, preliminary agreements include conditions which must be fulfilled before the execution of the final agreement, such as obtaining bank financing by the buyer, conducting a subdivision survey or obtaining a building permit for the planned project. The preliminary agreement should also specify the party that bears the risk in the event that the conditions are not fulfilled and the claims that can be raised by the other party if this happens. Usually, the parties agree in the preliminary agreement that the buyer should pay a portion of the sale price (ranging from 5 to 20% of the price) to the seller immediately after the execution of the preliminary agreement as earnest money (zadatek) – for more see below.
The form of a notarial act is not required for the preliminary purchase real estate agreement, however, it is recommended, especially from the perspective of the buyer. Where a party to the preliminary agreement executed as a notarial act refuses to sign the final agreement, the other party can force the conclusion of the final agreement by way of court proceedings. What is more, the agreement executed as a notarial act is the basis for an entry of the buyer’s claim for the execution of the final agreement and the transfer of the title to the property in the land and mortgage register. In the case where the seller is disloyal and attempts to sell the property to a third person in spite of the preliminary agreement with the buyer, the buyer whose claim is recorded in the land and mortgage register enjoys additional protection. When a property is sold to a third party despite the claim for the transfer of title recorded in the land and mortgage register, the person with the claim to the title can request the third party to transfer the title to the property in question to them.
If a party to a preliminary agreement which was not executed as a notarial act defaults on the obligation to execute the final agreement, claiming damages is the only recourse that the other party has. If the agreement does not specify the scope of liability for damages, the aggrieved party can only claim damages for losses they suffered because they assumed that the final agreement would be executed (e.g. legal fees, sworn translator fees).
Earnest money in property purchase contracts – zadatek
Unless the agreement provides otherwise, the payment of earnest money entitles the seller to rescind the agreement without setting an additional deadline and keep the money in the case where the buyer defaults on the terms of the preliminary agreement. Whereas if it is the seller who defaults on the preliminary agreement, the buyer, who paid earnest money, is entitled to seek the payment of double earnest money from the seller. In this type of cases earnest money plays the role of a contractual penalty for a breach of the preliminary agreement and replaces damages.
4. Final property purchase agreement
The final real estate purchase agreement requires the form of a notarial deed / notarial act. It is essentially a property purchase agreement executed in performance of the preliminary agreement executed earlier. So, the final agreement should include all the elements of a property purchase agreement, such as:
- the exact designation and detailed description of the legal status of the property, including information about changes (if any) in the legal status of the property following the execution of the preliminary agreement,
- the sale price and the payment terms and, if the buyer paid earnest money, a provision stating that earnest money will be credited towards the sale price,
- the conditions and the date of the handover of the property to the buyer.
The agreement must be executed in Polish language. However you do not need to worry that you do not speak Polish, as the Notary will be obliged to appoint a sworn translator of the language that you understand.
When the parties sign the final agreement, the title to the property is transferred to the buyer, unless the agreement states that the title will be transferred at a later date. If this is the case, the parties will need to execute a separate contract transferring the title to the property.
What properties can be purchased?
Following types of properties may purchased by the foreigners:
b. Lands along with buildings (as one joint property),
c. Buildings, and
What entitlements to properties may be purchased?
Typically you would be buying right of ownership to the property in Poland.
Ownership is the broadest property entitlement that includes:
– right of possession,
– right of usage,
– right of disposal.
b. Perpetual usufruct
Perpetual usufruct is very similar to ownership. Lands, which are subject to perpetual usufruct, are formally owned by Polish State or State entities, although substantial rights belong to the usufructor. A perpetual usufructor (a natural or legal person) can possess, use and dispose of the right to the property. Moreover, the buildings, which were erected on the lands, which are subject to perpetual usufruct, are owned by the perpetual usufructor. The perpetual usufruct agreement is concluded for 99 years or – in some exceptional cases – for 40 years. Extension of the right of perpetual usufruct for further periods is a matter of formality. Key disadvantage of the perpetual usufruct is the obligation to pay annual usufruct fee.
c. Share in the building with assigned apartment
In exceptional situations, the right to the apartment in Poland might source from someones entitlement to share in the land or buildings, which comprises of apartments. In that particular situation:
– share in the main property usually reflects size of the apartment,
– share in the main property indicates entitlement to particular unit/apartment.
This type of entitlement to apartment is rather unpopular due to its complicated nature. Besides type of entitlement is rather weak as in reality it is co-ownership of building rather than separate ownership of apartment. It is a relic of Polish People’s Republic. Foreigners as a rule may buy an ownership to separate apartment without a permit, but the permit will be required necessary when buying share in property with assigned apartment.
d. Cooperative member’s ownership right in an apartment
Cooperative member’s ownership right to an apartment it is very similar to ownership – it includes right of possession, usage and disposal. The right is transferrable, inheritable and enforceable. The difference sources mainly from the fact that formally it is the cooperative who owns the property.
e. Cooperative housing tenancy right
Cooperative housing tenancy right to an apartment is very similar to lease – it includes right of possession and usage, but not right of disposal. The right is untransferable, non inheritable, and unenforceable.