ASK AN EXPERT: What are red flags to watch out for when renting a flat in Prague?

We spoke with the realtors at Engel & Völkers about potential scams that renters should be aware of. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 30.05.2023 17:00:00 (updated on 05.06.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

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Prague is one of the safest cities in the world, but it's also gained a reputation for scammers who often take prey on those who aren't clued into the way the city works. This goes for renting real estate. We asked Mikuláš Hrubý, head of residential rentals at Engel & Völkers to guide us through the process of safely searching for an apartment and talk about some of the most common red flags to look out for when it comes to renting in the Czech capital.

Mikuláš Hrubý
Mikuláš Hrubý, head of residential rentals at Engel & Völkers

🚩 You're only shown the apartment in photos

It is of crucial importance to visit the apartment in person before deciding whether or not to rent it. If for whatever reason the circumstances don't allow it, then insist on a video tour. Hrubý advises renters to never make a decision based on photographs alone and here's why: In the best case scenario you will rent an apartment that's in a completely different condition than promised and which has possible damage. In the worst-case scenario? There will be no apartment.

When a personal inspection simply isn't possible, Hrubý suggests sending someone you trust to view the apartment on your behalf. Alternatively, you can contact a reputable international agency that you trust to help you remotely with the rental process.

Either way, it's always better to see the apartment in person and take your time with viewings, even if it costs money for flights and hotel. This way, you'll save yourself from future problems and worries.

🚩 You're asked to pay up front in cash

Maybe you've found the perfect apartment and want to move in already. At this point, however, it's important to stay alert, avoid getting emotional, and go over the fine print calmly. Unscrupulous scammers leverage this kind of excitement to take advantage of clients and often tell them that if they want the apartment, they need to pay a deposit in cash. Once the deposit is paid, the client will never see the apartment or the broker again.

Another type of scam involves the intermediary sending a reservation contract but no rental contract. Before signing a reservation contract, it is crucial to read the rental contract to make sure that it is not in conflict with the Civil Code or that you can discuss it with the landlord in case there are provisions that you do not agree with. If the reservation fee is non-refundable, by refusing to sign the lease you risk losing money.

🚩 You aren't able to confirm ownership

You have already selected the apartment, you have now received the lease, everything is in order and you are ready to sign. Before doing so, however, it's important to check that whoever is named on the lease is the actual owner of the property and knows that their property is being rented out.

Where can you locate this information? The best way is to look at the Land Registry or ask the letting agent to see the title deed. It is also important to have confirmation that the agent can offer the property by seeing the brokerage agreement. Finally, it's always a good idea to meet the landlord in person and get to know them.

How to avoid these scams?

Lease agreement vs. sublease agreement: Know the difference

A lease agreement is made directly between you as the tenant and the landlord, which makes it a clear relationship where the landlord leases their property directly to the tenant. In this case, as a tenant, you are protected by the Civil Code, with a notice period, rights and obligations, and so on.

It's better to avoid small real estate agencies, since they may not speak English, and also suspiciously attractive offers, such as a 100 square-meter apartment in Vinohrady with a monthly rent of CZK 15,000.

Mikuláš Hrubý, head of residential rentals at Engel & Völkers

As a potential renter, you may also encounter a "sublease agreement." This is a contract where the landlord lets the property to the tenant and the tenant sublets it to you as a subtenant. At that point, you are not protected by the Civil Code and you can, for example, be given notice from one day to the next. Sometimes it happens that a landlord rents out a property intentionally to a company that sublets it to save on taxes or to retain a better position in the hierarchy of rights.

That said, you may come across a sublease agreement that is advantageous to sign. When is this the case? If a flat is co-operatively owned, for instance, and the landlord is a co-operative, meaning that he has rented the flat from the co-operative, the sublet must be authorized by the co-op. You are entitled to ask to see this authorization.

Choose a reputable agency

It's always best to contact a reputable international agency that verifies the validity of the transaction for you. This way you can be sure that all the apartments on offer are under a brokerage agreement, where the broker knows the owner and vouches there are no legal or other problems.

As a tenant, doing so will save you the time and stress of searching for information and checking whether the offer is on the up and up. It's better to avoid small real estate agencies, since they may not speak English, and also suspiciously attractive offers, such as a 100 square-meter apartment in Vinohrady with a monthly rent of CZK 15,000.

Do not hesitate to contact Engel & Völkers at We will be happy to advise you and help you choose the ideal apartment for you, which will meet your requirements and will be in line with your particular living situation.

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