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How to rent a property (house/apartment/studio) in Bucharest as a foreigner

Romanian luxurious
In every country, including in Romania, it is a bit more complicated to rent an apartment/house. We’ll explain what you need to do to find a good deal and not to get tricked. In doing that we’ve added many Romanian pronunciation samples to help you ask the right questions in Romanian.
If you do not have the time/patience to read this long article, just read the executive summary (it’s 1 minute long).

Summary

Here are the most important things you need to know while renting an apartment in Romania:
- If you do not have a place to stay before you find an apartment try an airbnb
- Search the apartments/houses for rent on olx.ro
- Try to get an apartment next to a metro station. All Bucharest areas are ok to live in, avoid Ferentari.
- It’s your choice to use a real-estate agent or not. The real-estate will charge you a commission (one month rent) and will ask you to sign a pre-contract
- Ask many questions when you see the apartment and before you sign the contract
- The warranty to be paid to the owner is usually 1-2 months’ rent. Negotiate for one month rent. It’s to be paid in cash

Just landed in Bucharest

Our first advice is to book your stay in Bucharest before you get there. You can book a hotel room, or even better an airbnb. As you can imagine the prices for hotel rooms in Bucharest vary a lot from €15 a night for a hostel to €200 a night or even more.
Another option is to book an airbnb with prices ranging from €12 to €70 or more for a night in Bucharest in a private room or have an entire apartment for yourself.

We advise you to read our other article on useful advice while traveling in Romania

How to search for an apartment to rent in Bucharest

The most important website advertising apartments and houses to rent in Bucharest is olx.ro. It contains ads from all cities in Romania. You can start your search for an apartment here or for a house in Bucharest here

Romanian rental Vocabulary

To understand the the content of the rental offerings you need to learn the following Romanian vocabulary:
casă de închiriat - house for rent
apartament de inchiriat - apartment for rent
garsonieră - studio (one room)
2 camere - two-room (one bedroom and one living room)
3 camere - three-rooms (two bedrooms and one living room)
dormitor - bedroom
sufragerie - livingroom
hol - hall
baie - bathroom
bucătărie - kitchen
debara - storage room in the apartment/house
boxă - storage room (usually in the basement)
mobilat - furnished
nemobilat - unfurnished
parter - ground floor
etajul I - first floor (above the ground floor)
etajul 2 -second floor
ultimul etaj - last floor
aproape de metrou - close to the metro
Sunteti propietar sau agent imobiliar? - Are you the owner or an real-estate agent

Just drop us a comment (at the bottom of this page) and we'll add more terms if needed.

You need to know that "un apartament de două camere" even though translated as "two rooms apartment" actually means a one bedroom apartment. In Romania the living room is counted as a room as well in the rental ads.


Sample ad, apartment for rent:


Title of the ad:
Parc Crangasi, inchiriez apartament 2 camere spatios.
Bucuresti, judet Bucuresti, Sectorul 6 Adaugat La 14:59, 8 octombrie 2017, Numar anunt: 139670839

Let’s first translate the title: Crângași parc, I’m renting two rooms, spacious
Bucharest, district Bucharest, Sector 6, Added at 14:59 8 October 2017. Ad number: 139670839
Bucharest city is divided into 6 smaller administrative divisions that are called: 'Sectoare'. You will be living in one of the 'Sectoare',either Sector 1, or 2…

On olx.ro under the title you will find this type of information:
Oferit de: Proprietar
Compartimentare: Decomandat
Suprafata utila: 45 m²
An constructie: 1977 – 1990
Etaj: 1

Offerit de: Propietar is translated as Offered by the owner. If it’s an real-estae agency, you would see “Agenție”.
Compartimentare: Decomandat. There are two types of apartments “Decomandat” and “Nedecomandat”. Nedecomandat means that you will enter from one room into another, and that there is no central hall that connects the rooms. We recommend that you search for a Decomandat apartment.
Suprafata utila: 45m2. “Suprafata utila” is translated as “useful surface”, which actually means, how many square meters do you actually get (without counting the walls).
If you check on Google maps for parc Crângași (use the Romanian spelling for parc), then you will see that there is a metro station not so far called Crângași.
An constructie: 1977-1990. This is the year when the building was built: 1977-1990.
Etaj:1 is translated as “First floor”. It’s important to know that in Romania, the first floor is the first floor above the ground floor. The ground floor is marked as “Parter”.

The body of the ad is:
Apartament 2 camere situat intr-o zona linistita, langa parcul Crangasi la 5-10 minute de metrou. Apartamentul se afla la etajul 1 din 4, dispune de o suparafata utila de 45mp, este izolat termic, fiind mobilat si utilat: frigider, masina de spalat, aragaz.

Alte detalii: termopan, gresie, faianta, caTV si internet RDS.

The translation is: two-room apartment (this means one bedroom and a living room), located in a peaceful area, next to Crangasi park, 5-10 minutes to the metro. The apartment is on the first floor (above the ground floor) in a four story building (that very likely has no elevator), has a useful surface of 45 square meters, thermal isolation (it means you should pay less for heating during the winter), furnished and with appliances: fridge, washing machine, cooking plate.
Other details: double glazed (pretty good, again good for paying less for heating), tiles [on the floor] it means it’s not wooden floor in any of the rooms, tiles on the walls [in the bathroom, and maybe some in the kitchen, and maybe some the entrance lobby], TV and internet from RDS (which is one of the biggest TV and internet operators. By the way, the prices of TV and internet are very low in Romania.

Which criteria is important for you?

You need to decide what is important for you, is it the distance to your future work/place of interest? Do you want to live in a lively neighborhood? to go out frequently? Or maybe you are searching for a bigger apartment/house for your family with children? Do you want to have a park(green area) nearby?
Another important criteria is usually the cost (we are assuming that you are one of the "normal" foreigners that cannot afford to buy mansions in downtown Bucharest, but have to mind their expenses).
So you need to first know what you want. We won’t be able to find the best apartment for you, but we can help in translating and guiding you on where you could find what you are searching for.
Bucharest has a well-developed metro network, and due to the many traffic jams we advise you to take the metro as many times as you can. Equally important Bucharest boasts one of the cheapest prices for a taxi ride in Europe. The average price is 1.4RON/Km (approximately €0.25/$0.27/Km)

Which area of Bucharest is good/better for renting/ Where to live in Bucharest

All areas of Bucharest are good for living. The only area that we would advise you to avoid is Ferentari.
It’s important to note that all areas in Bucharest are safe for living.
The best would be to find an apartment not so far from your future office/workplace/point of interest in Bucharest.
Most Romanians would want an apartment within walking distance of a metro station. I would advise you to search for one close to the metro as well. In certain situations the traffic jams in Bucharest can be a real issue.
You can easily use google maps to check how far or close an apartment is from a metro station.

How much shall I expect to pay for an apartment in Bucharest?

Please check our article on the cost of living.

I do not speak Romanian, is this a problem?

No, it’s not a problem. You can still rent an apartment/house in Bucharest. You need to pay attention though to what you will be signing

Shall I use a real-estate agent?

Generally speaking most Romanians do not like to use real-estate agents, they are considered to be intermediaries that do very little and earn too much money. As always the truth is somewhere in the middle, there are good real-estate agents, but there are also many average ones.
Our first advice is to check the rest of the ads. You might be able to find the same apartment offered for rent by another real-estate agency or even by the owner himself/herself. If you find the ad posted by the owner (propietar), call him and ask him to confirm that he/she is the owner “Sunteti propietarul?” (Are you the owner?). In case you find another real-estate agency then this will give you more bargaining power if you are forced to sign a pre-contract (see below), you can say that if they do not lower their commission you will go with the other agency.
One complication that you can get while using a real-estate agent is that they might ask you to sign a sort of pre-contract which is meant to force you to pay the commission and not to circumvent the agency and sign directly with the owner.
Usually the real-estate agent would also prepare the rental contract, but it’s not mandatory that they do it.
The pre-contract is called in Romanian: Contract de vizionare (Contract for seeing [apartments]). The usual commission asked is one month rent. You should try to negotiate it to half a month and say that the owner should pay the other half. Here is one example: http://www.apartamentebucurestiinoi.ro/contract-de-vizionare

How to judge whether the real-estate agent is good or bad

If you decide to go for a real-estate agent make sure that you understand which type of person he/she is.
First of all does he/she speak reasonably good English? Unless you speak good Romanian, you will need to speak a bit of English with him/her.
Ask a few questions before you sign this "Contract de vizionare". The most important one is: How many apartments that fit my criteria do you have in your portfolio (Cate apartamente aveti la inchiriere care se potrivesc cerintelor mele). You can ask him/her to show you these apartments (if they have it, they can easily show it on their smartphone over the internet).
The most important secrets that the real-estate agent will never tell you before you sign the Contract de vizionare is the exact address of the apartment. So to judge the quality of your real-estate agent, before you sign such a contract, you need to reassure him/her that you will not shortcut him/her, and that you will not ask for the address. But explain that you need to see whether he/she can bring a real added value, and if they do, then you will be happy to sign the "Contract de vizionare" and pay them their commission. Ask questions about the apartment and if the real-estate agent does not know the answers then it is likely that they did not do their homework and you can easily move on to the next agent. Ask whether the apartment building is thermal isolated: “Blocul e izolat?” Recently more and more old “blocuri” (apartment buildings) get isolated on the outside.
Another useful question is: “Apartamentul are centrala proprie sau incalzirea e centrala?” (Does the apartment have its own heater or a central heating system).

Beware of the ones that will try to scare and dissuade you from trying something else by saying the offer is limited, or in case you have a dog to state that there are very few owners that would accept a dog. If you have some time at your disposal ask them not to call you again. There are plenty of opportunities in Bucharest.
Feel free to ask the real-estate agent to call you on your foreign mobile phone. The prices of calls in Romania including abroad are ridiculously cheap.
If you agreed to visit an apartment and the real-estate agent when he meets you he tells you that that apartment has already been rented and he can take you straight away to see something else equally good, then this is a bad sign. A serious real-estate agent would call you upfront and tell you that apartment is not available anymore (which can very well happen), but not make you meet him and then propose you something else. You could go and see the

What to expect

Most of the apartments in Bucharest are in blocks of flats such as this one:
Romanian block of flats
Nevertheless there are many new apartment buildings built
Most of them are either 4, 7 or even 10 story/floors buildings.
Most of this type of flats in the old neighborhoods in Bucharest (the ones with Metro stations) are pretty old.
While a four story block of flats will most of the time not have an elevator, the other ones 7 and 10 floors must have one.
The studios (garsoniera) are usually around 20-40 square meters. A two room apartment is usually 40-60 square meters, a three room apartment is between 60 and 80 meters, and a four room apartment is usually 70-100square meters). There are no 5 room apartments.
All old apartments do not have parking of their own. All inhabitants of Bucharest park in front of their building. It can be challenging in certain areas to find a parking space.

The renting process

Now that you believe that you have found a good ad that fits some of your needs you need to call the owner or the real-estate agent and make an appointment.

Visiting an apartment

First you must be able to find it. You can ask the owner or the real-estate agent to send you an sms/what’s up message with the exact address. The relevant question is: “Puteți să-mi trimiteți un sms pe numărul de pe care vă sun” If he/she does not see your phone number, you must spell it out for him/her. Just say it one digit at a time. To learn how to pronounce the Romanian digits please visit our lesson on Romanian numbers.

The address of an apartment should look like this: Str. Nicolae Grigorescu, Nr 23, Bl. B7, SC 5, ap. 8, et.2 which is deciphered by: Street Nicolae Grigorescu, number 23, block B7 scara 5, apartment number 8, second floor.
“Scara” (literally translated as “ladder/stair”) refers to the actual door that you need to enter. The same address Street Nicolae Grigorescu, number 23 can have several blocks: B7, B8… and the same block can have many scări: sc.1,2,3… So to know where to get exactly you need all these elements.

You must build your list of questions already upfront before seeing it.
It is very important that you spend some time in that apartment and you check it properly. Look in places that you would not normally look: behind the curtain, behind a wardrobe, on the ceiling. If you see something suspicious ask what is it about.
If you like the apartment ask to receive a rental agreement so that you can look at it before signing it.

What to pay attention to and what to ask for

You need to pay attention to the door, is it solid? (If it’s wooden just knock on it), does it have a simple key? Or a more sophisticated one?
Are the windows double glazed? And the newer type of plastic. Romanians call this type of windows “termopan”.
Does the apartment have its own heater? Or is it a central heating system.
The relevant question is: “Apartamentul are centrala proprie?” if yes, ask to see it “Pot să o vad” (Can I see it). For your information in 99% of the cases the heating will be on gas, since each apartment building and each apartment should have gas available.
In this type of flats there are common charges and individual charges. The heating, cold and hot water are collectively called in Romanian: “întreținere”. You need to ask “Cât vine întreținerea iarna” (How much does the maintenance cost during the winter). You must ask this question if there is a central heating system for many apartments.
If you do not have your own heater, then you need to ask how will they calculate your own share of the costs, will it be based on your own consumption? or based on measuring the heat on the radiators with calorimeters (calorimetru)? or based on the surface of the apartment and the persons living in it?

The rest of the charges are called “utilități” and that is electricity, gas, internet and phone.
Is the apartment building isolated? (Blocul e izolat?)
Ask about the neighbors, are they loud/problematic?
State that you will go afterwards to the immigration office to be registered at this address: “Vreau sa ma inregistrez la adresa asta”
Clarify how the payment of the “intretinere” and “utilitati” will take place? Will it be yourself or the owner that will get the bills? If it’s the owner, then ask that the owner shows you the bills before asking you to pay. In Romania it is common that the electricity and heating is paid by the tenant.

Contract

Unfortunately there is no standard rental agreement contract in Romania. However we have found this to be a good model. I’m planning to translate it fully so that you understand it.
Usually in the contract you would find the reference to you as a future tenant (chiriaș/locatar) and the owner (propietar) as well as the description of the apartment that you are renting. You normally find as well the payment conditions/amount, the duration of the contract and the cancellation clauses.
It's advisable to make the payment via a bank transfer, so in the contract the landlord's account should be specified.
If it's not already in the contract, ask to add the current index of all the meters (hot,cold water, gas, electricity).
If it's a furnished apartment it would be good to have in the contract all the furniture and appliances that the owner is providing in that apartment, as well as their state (see my point below on the pictures).

Warranty

The rental contracts usually foresee a warranty that must be paid by the renter to the owner. It is usually worth 1 to 3 months of rent. Unfortunately most owners require this to be paid in cash. You should pay it only while signing the contract, not before, and have it foreseen in the contract (the fact that you paid it).

Take pictures

Offer to take pictures of the apartment at your own cost, and say that you would like yourself and the owner to sign them. This will avoid you any disputes later on the state of the apartment. Pay close attention to the defects (no apartment is perfect), and then find the nearest hypermarket (e.g. Carrefour, Auchean) where you will certainly find a place to print your pictures. It is not usual to take pictures, and the owners might refuse, you can insist though, as at the end of the day the pictures will only show the current state of the apartment.

How to avoid getting tricked

If you follow some of the above advice you have a pretty good chances of avoiding to get tricked.
If you feel that something is not right, that someone is trying to trick you, you should start by asking to see their ID card. You can do it whenever you want, the question to be asked is: “Puteți să-mi arătați cartea de identitate, să știu cu cine am avut plăcerea (Could you show me your ID card to know whom I had the pleasure [to meet]). As you can imagine this is an unusual question, however if the Romanian real-estate agent has nothing to hide he/she should be fine with just showing you their ID card, otherwise if they don't you can easily walk away and move on to the next agent.

Your feedback is important

This article has been written based on my own experience and research. It would help the others that are searching if you could drop a comment at the bottom of this page, explaining your own experience, what worked and what not.
If you have other questions, I'd be happy to answer.

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