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Housing in Minsk and suburbs. “Renting 101” and aspects to take note of

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60,100 apartments (as of summer 2019) are officially being rented out in Minsk. This is to say, ‘There’s even more.’ There were 10% more landlords in 2019 compared to the year before. Key tip: if you have found a really good offer, act fast.

The city cannot boast a developed luxury segment. Those renting housing out understand it in their own way: from ‘European-style renovation’ from the 1990s to loft style with high ceilings. Keep in mind that the rent amount is by far no indicator of high-quality housing in Minsk. Minsk luxury segment will be clearly inferior to that in Moscow or even Kyiv—local owners fall short of such level in terms of decoration or furniture, although the rent rates are very high at times.

Find out more about the kinds of apartments in Minsk.

Better places to live

Minsk has no clear division into “bad” and “good” districts or neighborhoods. Back in the day, Chizhovka, Shabany, and Angarskaya were deemed extremely low class and even dangerous—but this hardly holds for the modern city. The worst-off area from the environmental standpoint is the one adjacent to the Minsk Tractor Works. The authorities have ramped up their effort against the ‘odors,’ but the problem is yet to be fully defeated.

Things to keep in mind are your budget, proximity to work and the subway, the desire to live in the downtown (it’s getting busier month after month) or in the ‘sleeping neighborhoods’ (residential areas with potentially better infrastructure).

Photo by Yury Strukau on Unsplash

Areas with the densest high-rise buildings

Premium class projects: existing and under construction

53% of Minsk real estate ‘to let’ are one-bedroom apartments, 34%—two-bedroom, 11%—three-bedroom ones. Larger apartments, townhouses, and detached houses are offered as well, but they are in short supply.

The stated rate for a one-bedroom apartment is $260, while the actually charged rent averages at $225 (H1/2019 data).

Landlords’ dreams don’t match up with reality. Conclusion? Try bargaining.

The rate’s main determinant is the number of bedrooms that a tenant is looking to rent. The fewer rooms in an apartment, the higher price tenants are going to have to pay for each square meter.

The next factor is location. Further down, the capital structure type. The cheapest apartments are offered in ‘khrushchevkas’ (Khrushchev-era housing). These are medium height apartment buildings with small kitchens, corridors and rooms, combined bathrooms.

Other potential rent-affecting factors: view from the windows, parking space availability,infrastructure (proximity to malls, shops, schools, polyclinics, hospitals).

Photo: Eugene Attsetski

Private, cottage houses, townhouses in Minsk

Private houses within Minsk city limits are rare— and very expensive, too. For instance, a high-quality 2–3-story cottages in one of the most popular low-rise development areas, Selkhozposyolok, are up for rent at $1,800–3,000 per month. And if we are talking about such streets as Raduzhnaya/Pionerskaya in the Diplomatic Town area, Zhasminovaya/Vankovicha, monthly rates there are north of 3,500 dollars.

They are most often rented out to diplomats or companies. One should look for such offers in Tsnyanka, on Zhasminovaya, Parnikovaya streets.

It’s possible to rent a townhouse in Minsk and the suburbs, but there are very few of them. Again, townhouses are to be looked for in the Zhasminovaya/Vankovicha development area. They will run you $2,000–2,400 per month. An alternative: between Timoshenko-Odintsova streets. Renting a townhouse there will cost 1,400-1,600 dollars.

The main areas of development with manors and low-rise houses

‘Housing hunting 101’ in Minsk

Top sites to search for an apartment without a realtor:

realt.by onliner.by flatfy.by hata.by neagent.by kvartirant.by

You can search for an apartment at a specific address (street, neighborhood) by simply googling it. For instance: ‘Minsk, rent an apartment, three rooms, Gikalo Street.’

How-To: Renting a place in Minsk on your own

Often IT companies help find an apartment to rent: they refer to an agent, offer a temp corporate apartment/hotel room, pay the rent for the first months.

When renting a house on your own, doing so through a real estate agency (realtor) more reliable—it ensures you the best legal protection. If you decide to search yourself, at least ask your colleagues for advice.

Be sure to enter into an official rental agreement with the landlord—this is your safeguard from fraudulent schemes and protection of your interests. The main thing is, foreigners would need such an agreement to have their paperwork done.

ACTION PLAN:

  1. Find a place you like—on your own or engaging a realtor.
  2. Check the landlord’s documents for the apartment to find out who else is registered there.
  3. Inspect the apartment, make sure that everything is in order—this way you get to avoid compensation claims for, say, broken bathroom equipment.
  4. An extra step: check the landlord’s reputation (talk to the neighbors).
  5. Find out about any arrears in payment for utilities, unpaid telephone bill. Ask the landlord for the most recent payment documents (receipts) and check them against the current meter readings. Find out about your phone bill arrears by calling 164.
  6. Settle the matter of concluding an agreement and registration in the apartment with the landlord, stipulate all the terms critical for renting. If the dwelling is located in a house with a home owners’ association, the landlord should contact the latter’s chairperson for an extract from the personal account.
  7. If someone of age is registered in the apartment, make sure you obtain a written consent of such persons that they do not object to your moving in.
  8. Go to the local Payment & Reference Center with the landlord to conclude the rental agreement and register at the place of residence.
  9. Record the water meter (if available) and electricity meter readings.
  10. Pay the rent in line with the agreement.

In Minsk, the demand for good apartments outstrips the supply. Be prepared to negotiate rental as soon as after the first tour of the apartment. Have enough money on you—at least enough to cover an average monthly rent. If the landlord agrees to rent the place out to you, you can immediately pay for the first month or leave a deposit. Do take an IOU note, however, indicating the amount and that the cash ‘has been handed over towards future payment for the use of residential premises.’

Don’t forget! Legal tender in Belarus is Belarusian rubles—not US dollars, euros, or Russian rubles.

The required documents and all necessary arrangements (the ‘no realtor’ scenario)

FROM YOU

  1. It is enough to show the landlord your passport if it is in Russian. If the passport is in a different language, you’ll need to get its notarized translation.
  2. Sometimes the landlord may inquire about your employer or your profession and/or position.
  3. No need to confirm your solvency with bank statements or, say, recommendations from former landlords (unlike common practice in the European countries). If you have those, however, they can serve as an additional point in your favor.

FROM THE LANDLORD

  1. Technical passport of their apartment.
  2. State registration certificate proving title to the apartment.

The landlord may not have the technical passport/state registration certificate. In this case, they can show you a certificate of inheritance/contract for the apartment’s purchase—or an extract from the Minsk City Agency for State Registration and Land Cadaster.

By the way, anyone can find out who the apartment’s rightful owner is. For that, you need to know its exact address, come to the Minsk City Agency for State Registration and Land Cadaster (aka «БТИ», BTI) and pay 0.2 base units (~$2) to obtain the wanted extract. Such information is accessible online, but it’s by subscription only—which is more relevant for legal entities.

Verifying the rights to the apartment is unfortunately mandatory if you choose to rent one without a realtor. Otherwise, there is no guarantee that the person who received your rent apartment is not a crook and the actual owner will not pay you a “surprise visit” demanding to vacate the premises.

Find out if someone is registered at the rented apartment: ask to see a copy of the utility bill. If no one is registered, the utilities will cost way more than otherwise. On average, a two-bedroom apartment would run ~$25–35 (on top of the ISP bill) in utility payments per month.
Standard template of a rental agreement

Make sure the agreement describes the condition of and all the property in the apartment: what works and what is faulty—as much detailed as it can get. The same goes for the rent amount, duration, and any other special terms & conditions. For example, who and how pays for the utilities, the internet bill, whether the landlord has the right to drop by the apartment to check how things are with it or not.

The agreement can be amended in writing given the parties’ mutual consent to that.

The owner cannot evict you as long as there is a valid rental agreement, unless you start raising hell, ruin the place and fail to use it as intended.

Have the agreement say that you need to register at the place of residence in the rented premises.

Such things usually go into the Other Terms & Conditions clause. A simple phrase ‘with registration at the place of residence in the rented premises’ will do the job.

To register your rental agreement, you need to contact the Payment & Reference Center servicing the local area. The landlord would know where the right one is.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

  1. Come to the Center together with the apartment’s owner, have the documents ready: passports, technical passport for the apartment (original and a copy), state registration certificate of the property title (original and a copy), written consent signed by all the individuals registered at the apartment confirming they agree with your moving in.
    If the landlord’s house is run by a home owners’ association, then the landlord should contact its chairperson to obtain an extract from the personal account before going to the Payment & Reference Center.
  2. Prepay 0.2 base units to get registered (~$2.5). This can be done at the state-run ‘Belarusbank’ (they will give you the necessary details and payment code) or online. Fill out the needed application at the Payment & Reference Center later and sign it together with the owner.
  3. Contact the legal adviser at the Payment & Reference Center to draw up the rental agreement, fill out all copies thereof in advance, preferably in electronic form, and bring them along—both as hard copies and as a digital file. It is the landlord’s duty to inform the tax office about the concluded agreement, of which he will be notified (and required to acknowledge that in writing) at the Payment & Reference Center.

Normally, the down payment to a landlord in Minsk would be 2 monthly rents: for the first and for the last month of stay. If you decide to move out, you will have covered your last month’s rent in advance, and the landlord won’t have to worry about you leaving the place without paying.

The utility payments are usually paid by the tenant, too—or they get added to the rent.

The income tax is typically paid by landlords.

If the apartment is a luxury one, with decent furniture and new high-quality appliances, the owner may require a certain deposit in case you break something.

Renting a place through a realtor

If this procedure brings you down, getting help from a realtor would be indispensable. We recommend that you clearly specify in the service agreement what exactly the realtor’s service fee will cover—it is <mark style=”background-color: #53bbe8;”>likely that you’ll still have to deal with the registration yourself, whereas the realtor’s involvement may be limited to the selection of housing only.</mark>

Half the ads online are posted by real estate companies. Finding their websites shouldn’t be difficult.

Associated expenses

  • Obtaining information about available apartments matching your requirements: 5 base units (~$60).
  • Having the agent come along to help inspect the apartment: 5 base units (~$60).
  • If you had help with entering into a rental agreement (an official one, of course): 5 base units (~$60).

Things not to expect from rental housing in Minsk

  • The city doesn’t offer a whole lot of houses with restricted-access courtyards. Yet, there are exceptions. For example, Novaya Borovaya.
  • Paid underground parking is a rarity. Such housing is expensive.
  • Studio apartments are a fairly new thing. Look for those in either brand-new or 3..7-year-old houses.
  • The number of rooms listed in the landlord’s offer is (usually) the actual number of the apartment’s living rooms—not bedrooms, as is customary in many European countries.

Main rental housing market trends

  • Base apartment rent rates will remain at the 2019 levels.
  • The demand will traditionally be subject to seasonal fluctuations and respond to the main factors: graduation of young specialists from universities and a wave of freshmen (first-year students) coming to town.
  • Prices will also follow the demand cycles, growing by up to 5% during peak periods and falling back once these pass.
  • The most expensive housing will be the apartments in geographical/business downtown area, as well as those around Lebyazhy neighborhood and by the National Library.
  • One-bedroom apartments will remain the most popular.
  • The nearest suburbs will attract higher interest due to growing supply of modern high-quality housing in new residential compounds, as well as the development of transport infrastructure and links with the ‘mainland’ Minsk.
Details about prices and neighborhoods

Places for short stay in Minsk

There are 30 hostels in Minsk. Rates for one bed/bunk: ~$7—10 per night.

600+ apartments are offered for rent; prices start at $25 per night.

Budget hotels (Orbita, Sputnik, Yubileyny) offer accommodation at $35+/night, some modern budget hotels (BonHotel, Willing Hotel, Hampton by Hilton Minsk City Center) charge $65..85+ per night.

High-class hotels (DoubleTree by Hilton Minsk, Renaissance Minsk Hotel, Minsk Marriott Hotel) offer rooms at $132..156+/night.

Apartments and hotels, as elsewhere, are available on Airbnb, booking.com, hotels.com, expedia.com.

Links to save:

Minsk’s best locations for living and recreation.

Utility payments in Minsk.

Medicine in Belarus.

Public transport in the Belarusian capital.

Places to grab a bite.

City’s entertainment.

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Best ways to reach Minsk

Moving your stuff

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