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Options for dealing with dishonest landlord in Poland


motylek 2 | 15
27 Feb 2010 #1
Hello,

my former landlord is trying to tell me I must pay him a much much larger than usual sum for electricity. I disagree with the amount and he is refusing to look any further into the situation (I implied there were was either a problem with the meter or perhaps someone had tapped the line). He also refuses to tell me the amounts for the same time period in prior years.

What can I do? Do I have to pay him? What would happen if I chose not to?

Are there any sort of rental ombudsmen in Poland for foreigners?
dnz 17 | 710
27 Feb 2010 #2
Just ignore him and don't pay. All landlords in Polish are dishonest and greedy and there is no way they can take you to court for the money.

If they can't prove that you owe them the money with evidence ie dated invoices etc then take it that you don't owe them it.

Yet another example of Polish greed and stupidity. I had the same problem once and I just left and didn't hear anything else.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,456
27 Feb 2010 #3
What can I do?

Drop me a line at office@lindenia - I'm in Poznan too, and I'm happy to help deal with him if he's irritating you. I cannot stand landlords doing this - especially as many of them aren't declaring the income.

Essentially what dnz says is right - tell him to get lost. Even better, you could probably tell him that you need copies of the invoices to show the Urząd Skarbowy - which would almost certainly frighten him. Were you registered to the property?

There's a small chance that he could take you to court - but knowing how the vast majority of landlords work in Poland, it's highly unlikely that he would dare.

I'm really surprised that Poland hasn't introduced a law demanding that all contracts get deposited at the Urzad Skarbowy to be honest - the amount of tax evasion is incredible.
Harry
27 Feb 2010 #4
Even better, you could probably tell him that you need copies of the invoices to show the Urząd Skarbowy - which would almost certainly frighten him.

almost completely right. Actually you need to tell him to feck off. But with a u in place of the e.
beelzebub - | 444
27 Feb 2010 #5
I would tell him to get f*cked..and make sure he knows that YOU know what he is doing is illegal and if you hear another word of it you will make sure he is brought to the attention of the Police. As has been said landlords in Poland usually operate using intimidation. People are afraid of getting in trouble or losing their place to live so they cave.

In this case he has no control over your current living conditions and he is not going to go to court and incriminate himself for bullying you. He will move on to the next victim.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,456
27 Feb 2010 #6
and if you hear another word of it you will make sure he is brought to the attention of the Police.

Not the police, but the taxman. And depending on location, the administration (if there's one) might also be very interested to learn about it - I know many flats in Poznan aren't allowed to be sublet without the authorisation of the Administration. And if it's not under an administration, then it could very well be mortgaged - again, it's unlikely that he's got permission to let it.

The amount of stuff you can do to really **** a landlord up in Poland is fun :)
beelzebub - | 444
27 Feb 2010 #7
Ah good point on tax and registration. I had a great landlord the last time but my previous ones were righteous tw@ts. The worst are old women. They act all sweet but will try to cheat you whenever they get the chance.
nierozumiem 9 | 118
27 Feb 2010 #8
I think the most important question is the type of heating that your flat had. If you used electric heating then you should expect your winter bills to be several multiples of your summer bills.

If you signed a lease contract for the property then there should have been a related protocol that contained the exact reading of the electricity meter at the time of moving in. If you know this reading and the reading of the meter on your departure then I can probably give you a fair estimate of your total electricity bill for this period.

Although unlikely, it is far from unheard of in Poland for someone to steal your electricity by tapping into the lines.

You refer to him as your “former” landlord. Is the situation that he is not returning your security deposit, or that he is looking for additional money from you now that you have vacated the property?

It is definitley not true that your landlord cannot take you to court over the money. It is probably not worth his time for a few hundred zloty, but well worth his time for a few thousand. It really depends on the particular details of your situation (do you have a lease contract, were the meters read and you countersigned, is he paying his taxes, etc.)

BTW, I am a landlord in Poland, and I have never had a tenant characterize me as dishonest or greedy.

Good luck
beelzebub - | 444
27 Feb 2010 #9
He is more likely trying to cover some loss he is responsible for. Landlords do this all the time in Poland. I had it done to me a few times. They try to use tenants to cover their administrative costs etc. They count on people being afraid and giving in. Tell them to p!ss off and that's the end of it.

The Polish "meh" attitude is really prevalent when renting. Try to get something fixed without a huge battle, trying to get them to register you without a huge battle...nearly impossible. They smile and take your money but if you ask anything of them they just refuse knowing that most people will not take it to court.
OP motylek 2 | 15
27 Feb 2010 #10
When you say "several multiples" higher, my problem is that the bill in question is for mid December to mid February. It is nearly 15 times the amount of the previous bill, which was from the end of October thru mid December, a time period in which I was also using heat. Yes, 15 times higher. Granted, I knew the bills would go up when I started heating, and they did, the October and November bill was higher than previous bills. I just find an increase of this magnitude hard to believe, especially considering I was out of the country for one week for Christmas holidays and had everything off.

I also find it odd that he wont look into bill amounts from previous years, or any of my other suggestions and instead chooses to respond in a rather condescending fashion (eg telling me that the winter was cold). In addition, I have friends who live in a building of a similar age who also have electric heat, but have the old leaky windows and a flat twice the size with lower bills!

He says he is giving back my whole deposit, and he is crediting that toward the amount of the electric (yes, the deposit is LESS than this electric bill!)
jonni 16 | 2,485
27 Feb 2010 #11
Yes, 15 times higher.

Out of interest, what are the figures?
Poznaniak
27 Feb 2010 #12
I object to the "all landlords are scum" tone here, as I own two rental properties, and could just as easily say "most tentants are scum", too. I just had a couple move out today. They were already some 1500zl in arrears on rent and utility bills, and called me mid-week to say "we're moving out on Sunday", despite having a lease until July.

They claim financial difficulty (their employer did not pay them) and that they'll pay me "soon", but for sure I won't see that money.

The previous tenant turned out to be an alcoholic, also not paying his bills and one time throwing his television off the 3rd floor balcony!

In regard to the thread, I give my tenants copies of all utility bills and they are to pay exactly what they owe.
beelzebub - | 444
27 Feb 2010 #13
Object all you want because MOST landlords in Poland will try to take advantage of you. They nickle and dime you and do as little as possible when it comes to repairs or holding up their responsibility. Also Poles do not understand the concept of what a room or flat is worth...they ask ridiculous prices and then rather than lower the price when they get no takers they leave it empty for a year and p!ss and moan about how 'cheap' the clients are...some even raise the prices. It goes with the Polish attitude of "you should feel lucky we are taking your money". They also usually lie about the standard of the flat and neglect to tell you about things that are wrong which causes you to waste your time shopping around.

My personal experience there and that of all people I know is probably on the order of 80% scum 20% decent.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,456
27 Feb 2010 #14
Poznaniak - don't you do due diligence on potentially tenants?
Poznaniak
27 Feb 2010 #15
Well, as Polish isn't my strong point, there's not a lot I can do by myself. It's not like the USA, where you can pull a credit report, etc. About all I can do is ask about work, and talk to them and try to make a character judgement. To date, that hasn't worked out so well... I need to do a re-think this next time around.
beelzebub - | 444
28 Feb 2010 #16
SO we were talking about Polish landlords being scum....you are not Polish...and you posted being "offended". You weren't even the topic...my god this forum should be renamed the "thin skinned forum"
delphiandomine 88 | 18,456
28 Feb 2010 #17
About all I can do is ask about work, and talk to them and try to make a character judgement.

Wow, there's still plenty you can do.

First of all, ask them for two references - one from the previous landlord and one from their workplace. If you're especially unsure, you can ask for more - asking for one from their priest could be a good way to weed out ne'er-do-wells. References are absolutely normal in the UK - and you should do this as standard. If they can't provide one from their workplace, then you can assume that something is wrong and to steer clear.

Secondly, ask to see their contracts from work. Anyone in reputable, stable employment will have "umowa o pracy" - not "umowa o dzielo" or "umowa zlecenia". It's not to say that all dishonest tenants are on the latter contracts, but if you're looking for a better class of tenant, this can help.

Finally, make it clear that everything is 100% legal. If you make it clear from the beginning that you're declaring the income and that you will pursue them for unpaid debts, then you'll find life is much easier.

Also, you should always, always, always check their ID card and ask them to provide photocopies of it.

If you're in Poznan, I can happily give you more advice about this - my address is listed further up this thread :)
dnz 17 | 710
28 Feb 2010 #18
If they can't provide one from their workplace, then you can assume that something is wrong and to steer clear.

Thats ridiculous, I earn a lot more money than the average Polish person and work for myself how would somebody in my situation provide a reference? Its just giving poles a reason to be more unreasonable and backwards. When I had my old flat in Naramowice and paid for the garage they refused to allow me to have a replacement remote as I don't have a NIP number, When I asked why this was they told me they wanted to make sure I could afford it. I was paying for it anyway and was parking a 6 year old expensive ******* limousine in it of course I could afford 10 quid a month. Its pathetic here and i am so glad i'm leaving soon.
beelzebub - | 444
28 Feb 2010 #19
Haha...it sounds just like the kind of nonsense that drove me away. You will be amazed once you leave...I had gotten used to those kind of games and it had changed me for the worse. I am not sure if people are messing with me now that I am back home because they are so nice and efficient. I keep waiting for the catch...heh. Poland really drags you down.

I also agree that if a landlord started asking for all that I'd tell him to find another renter. A signed contract is all he needs. The most I would do is show him my ID so he can confirm the name is the same as our contract but he wouldn't be getting a copy of my ID, passport or any of that. He sure as hell wouldn't be seeing my contract if I had one either. He doesn't need to know where I work or how much I make etc. None of his business.
Harry
28 Feb 2010 #20
He says he is giving back my whole deposit, and he is crediting that toward the amount of the electric (yes, the deposit is LESS than this electric bill!)

Tell him that you'll pay the same amount as the previous bill and you want your deposit back in full. If you don't get your deposit back you'll be reporting him to the tax man because you want your taxable income to be lowered by the amount he's stolen from you.
nierozumiem 9 | 118
28 Feb 2010 #21
Motylek, If you are using electric heating it doesn't surprise me that the sum of the electricity bill for this period exceeds your security deposit. Your landlord may be dishonest, but it may reasonably be the case that you actually used that much electricity.

I am a landlord in Krakow. Most of my tenants are international students and workers. I have gone through the cost and PAIN of installing gas heating / hot water in all of my flats. When I show my flats to prospective Polish tenants it’s the first thing they want to know. Internationals rarely bring it up. When I explain the benefits of gas I can see their eyes glaze over. Nobody wants to hear about 2nd tariff electricity, storage heaters, and 24x7 heating.

Here is a typical scenario in Krakow - A 50m2 flat in an old kamienica, windows aren't the best, tall ceilings, 2nd tariff electricity, an old piec kaflowy (tiled oven) in the corner or piec akumulacyjne (storage heater). Electric heat and hot water. The tenant does a good job of conserving electricity. Summer electric bills of 100zl. Winter electric bills of 500 - 800 zl. With a Jan / Feb like we just had, bills more like 900 - 1200zl or more.

That is a good scenario. In a bad scenario there are no storage heaters, just floor heaters, or the electric panels you can connect to the walls. Or even worse the heaters are not just wired to the 2nd tariff, so you can run heat during the day. In the winter we just had, expect electricity bill to surpass 2000zl / month. Really

With gas it would be 200 - 300 zl.

Maybe this is your situation, maybe it is not. I’ve heard this story in Krakow several times: a few students from southern Europe sharing a flat and presented with a 5000zl bill for a couple of months of electricity. What seemed like a bargain in September has turned into a nightmare. Dishonesty? Are the agents and landlords taking advantage of the tenants’ ignorance about electric heating? Maybe. Possibly. Probably. Or perhaps the landlords believe what is obvious about heating to them is universally obvious, and when the tenant runs up an electricity bill of a few thousand zloty and doesn’t pay, the landlord is being ripped-off. Possibly?

What I do know is that there is endless grief between Polish landlords and non-Polish tenants; dishonest landlords, dishonest tenants, and a lack of common language / understanding. Feel free to send me a PM if you have any specific questions I can help you with. Good Luck
delphiandomine 88 | 18,456
28 Feb 2010 #22
Thats ridiculous, I earn a lot more money than the average Polish person and work for myself how would somebody in my situation provide a reference?

As I recall, what most letting agents do in the UK is ask for your annual accounts if you're self employed, or proof of income. Quite normal now for any decent, professional letting agent.

(having said this, the UK is far superior in the sense that most professional landlords only check the property once every three months and stay well away unless they're needed)
OP motylek 2 | 15
28 Feb 2010 #23
What I do know is that there is endless grief between Polish landlords and non-Polish tenants

A few points - I have a Polish background, and can function in the language. The landlord speaks English as well. I asked about heat, and what the bills had run previous tenants. The windows were new and I don't ever put my heater to the highest setting. I know people in larger flats of similar age with OLD windows and their bills don't come close to mine.

If the landlord was truly being honest, why will he not show me the bills from prior years? (This bill is not in accordance with what I was told, either) Why will he not answer when I ask to look into how the bill jumped 15 times from the November and December bill?

**Aside**I believe he may have some financial difficulties as I was unable to get internet in the flat from INEA. Apparently something was flagged on his account to not have services installed in a flat owned by him. When I asked him to remedy this situation, he told me he had given me the necessary form to have it installed (he had) but I told him they wished to speak to HIM. He never called, and I was stuck using Play Mobile, which is ludicrously expensive.
landora - | 199
28 Feb 2010 #24
Thats ridiculous, I earn a lot more money than the average Polish person and work for myself how would somebody in my situation provide a reference?

Well, I agree this is pointless, but I had quite a lot of hassle in the UK with getting stuff done - because for example they couldn't understand that I, living in the halls, do not have bills for water/electricity/whatever ass I do not pay them! Apparently paying over 1000 pounds for the room in the halls was not enough to prove that I actually live there. So not so brilliant there just as well ;)

Mikey can also tell you stories about my British boss and his ineptitude, for example the way he forgot my leaving date and how he didn't manage to pay money into my account for whole semester I was working there.
pantsless 1 | 267
28 Feb 2010 #25
Why will he not answer when I ask to look into how the bill jumped 15 times from the November and December bill?

Does he not have them or something? I only keep bills for a year, but Im a bit more tidy and have all numbers on a spreadsheet.

But honestly heating bills this winter were through the roof, my tenants had to pay 250% over what I projected because it was so cold. The choice was clear for almost everyone, freeze and wear jackets indoors and be sick every week, or pay boatloads just for having a warm apartment in the morning and nights.

And he may not have 'financial difficulties' at all, I refused to pay a bill from TP SA for NOT having a phone line and am blacklisted from them.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,456
28 Feb 2010 #26
But honestly heating bills this winter were through the roof, my tenants had to pay 250% over what I projected because it was so cold.

This is the *one* nice thing about communist central heating - you have to pay all year round for heating that isn't turned on in summer, but at the same time, it's never cold enough to need heating in summer AND you don't have any surprises at all with heating costs.

But really, who would rent a flat with electric heating? It's just asking for trouble...
jonni 16 | 2,485
28 Feb 2010 #27
Summer electric bills of 100zl. Winter electric bills of 500 - 800 zl. With a Jan / Feb like we just had, bills more like 900 - 1200zl or more.

I've come across this before in older buildings. The landlord should have made it clear though.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
28 Feb 2010 #28
Tell him to get knotted, go with the advice above. I remember my friend was asked to pay 8000PLN for the clean-up of mildew which had caused some damage. He was leaving the country anyway and did just that. He was not responsible for it. Another case of a disgruntled wan*er looking for money that's not his.
amago19 - | 4
30 Aug 2010 #29
I wouldn't rely on the Polish Branch of European Ombudsmen or Consumer Section - from my experience they were not familiar with the EU laws and provided incorrect information. And upon presenting clear evidence of a personal statement from Brussels headquarters on the law itself - they just decided to ignore it. I'm not sure why we are paying for them in the first place.

Anyways, check this website and contact the EU Ombudsman directly - they are far more efficient and legally reliable.

I can't give you a link - the website doesn't accept it here for fear of spam. Google EC Europa EU Consumers Citizens and you should be able to find it.

Good luck
Voiceinthedeser
27 Apr 2015 #30
I am myself in a traumatic dispute with my landlord in Cracow. Instead of sleeping, I spent long hours at the computer. The landlord I have is evil, an impersonation of a real manipulator! He has raised rent many times. He rented me 8 years ago with a refrigerator normal size. After 7 years, he said "he needs this refrigerator, for he has someone who needs to rent his other apartment." He told me he will give me a smaller freezer. I very reluctantly accepted, for I was too involved in my professional work, unable to waste any time. It worked a few months, very noisy, and finally broke down. That same day, he returned the old refrigerator I had, which he gave to somebody else, broken, and not freezing, but only by a 10%. The new renter had it returned to him. I lost a 100 zloty of food yesterday, unable to use the freezer. As I said, I am in a trauma, for in this evil city there is no ombudman for tenant/landlord disputes! Where do I go for help? He told me three times yesterday, "go back to America." What do I do? This Polish evil will drive me to some terrible break down!


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