Polish legislation provides for several types of ownership of real estate, which differ significantly from each other. Some of them are determined by the type of property, of which the most common are apartments in a multi-apartment building, a house with a garden plot or an undeveloped plot of land, although there is a significant difference in the case of standard apartments.
When purchasing an apartment or garage, a foreigner is not required to have any additional legal status or permission to complete a purchase and sale transaction, although the stay of a citizen of another state in Poland must in any case be legal. However, you can buy housing in Poland even while in the country on a tourist visa, or online, as was common during the Covid-19 pandemic.
For apartments in multi-apartment buildings, Polish legislation distinguishes three forms of ownership.
1. Full ownership of housing
Allows you to have not only your own apartment, but also to be a co-owner of common areas (staircases, corridors, bicycle parking), including the land plot on which the house is built. The exception is balconies, entrance doors and other external elements – including air conditioners. The owner can dispose of such real estate at his own discretion: sell directly to both Poles and foreigners, rent it out without the participation of intermediaries, take collateral against it, transfer it by inheritance and give it as a gift. To simplify all these processes, a księga wieczysta is always issued for such an apartment – a document that contains all the technical characteristics of the residential premises.
This document, which indicates all the characteristics of the housing, including the presence of a mortgage, debts, encumbrances, etc., is kept in paper form in the nearest district court. Using its number, anyone can always request on the corresponding website all the information they are interested in about this property.
2. Ownership of cooperative housing
The fundamental difference from full ownership is the absence of the right to a share of the land plot on which the residential building is located. Basically, the owner of such an apartment is free to do whatever he wants with it, as in the previous case, with the exception of two points: redevelopment of the premises and their transfer to the non-residential category – for example, into a store or workshop. In addition, if there is a large debt, the general meeting of members of the cooperative may file a lawsuit to deprive the owner of property rights.
This type of ownership in Poland is practically not found in houses built after 2007, and most residents seek to transfer cooperative apartments into full ownership – also in order to increase their value.
3. Public Construction Partnership
In fact, it is a veiled form of long-term lease, since residents living in such an apartment are deprived of any rights to it and only after five years have the opportunity to completely buy it out at market value. Before receiving such housing for temporary use, it is necessary to document the low level of income, coupled with the lack of alternative residential real estate for other family members, and also make a deposit into the partnership account in the amount of at least 10% of the specified cost.
Until such an apartment is completely purchased, no legal actions can be taken with it. Even in order to sell the right to live in it, permission from the residents’ meeting will be required, and the potential “successor” will also have to meet all the requirements for a law-abiding citizen.