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How to rent an apartment in Athens
Last Modified: 14/04/2022
Are you planning to move to Athens? Are you wondering how to find an apartment to rent? Do you have questions about the renting procedure? In this article, we will answer all your questions and help you prepare for your relocation to Athens.
Finding an apartment to rent, especially in a new country, can be complex and daunting. Whether you are an expat, an international student, a professional, or a digital nomad, there are many factors you need to consider. Athens has some particular quirks that make it slightly different from other cities. This article will provide you with the essential information you should keep in mind while searching for an apartment in Athens. So let’s jump into it.
Before you arrive in Athens
You can do many things to prepare before you arrive in Athens. These three simple steps will make your relocation much easier.
1. Define your search criteria for renting
When searching for a place to rent, you have several options: a studio, an apartment in a building, a maisonette, or a penthouse. Each option has its pros and cons, so your decision should be based on your needs and requirements.
Create a list of the features you most want your place to have. Set the required characteristics and determine the extras or nice-to-haves. Some things you might consider are size, furniture, the existence of a balcony, the layout of the kitchen, and whether the property has been renovated recently.
2. Pick a neighbourhood you want to live in
Start researching the various districts and neighbourhoods in Athens, weighing up the pros and cons of each. Price, distance, transportation, and places of interest are all important factors that you should consider.
Do you prefer to rent an apartment in the crowded and bustling city centre? Or maybe the coastlines of the Athenian Riviera work better for you? Create a shortlist of 4-5 areas you would like to rent a flat in Athens. Brik has prepared descriptions of several Athens neighbourhoods that can help you with your search.
3. Research prices
After you decide on your preferred neighbourhoods, you should check out the average rent for each neighbourhood. The Spitogatos price index gives a general view of rent prices per square metre grouped by large areas of Athens. Xe.gr has a helpful tool to assess the prices and trends in the real estate market available in Greek, which you can translate using a browser extension. This tool offers a more granular view of each neighbourhood, with prices segmented by property size.
You can also browse listings directly on those websites to get an idea of what prices landlords are asking for.
Tip - Don’t spend too much time on listings before you arrive
A common mistake that many tenants make is shortlisting properties before arriving in Athens. They add properties to their bookmarks or save them down as favourites and try to organise their viewings before they arrive. While this can be helpful to narrow down your requirements, we offer the following points of caution.
Good apartments are rented fast
When an apartment is listed for rent at a price commensurate with the market, it will be snapped up quickly. If you browse apartments two weeks before you arrive and see something that looks perfect, it will likely be rented by the time you come to Athens. This can lead to lots of time wasted and lots of disappointment.
Beware of rent scams
Unfortunately, scammers out there prey on renters seeking housing in new cities. Athens is no different, and you need to be careful. Never hand over any money unless you have a signed contract. It may be tempting to secure your housing before you arrive in Athens, but this can leave you vulnerable to scammers who may take advantage of your situation.
The pictures do not tell the whole story
Getting emotionally attached to a house without seeing it in person can be dangerous. The photos may give a false impression of the layout and condition of the flat. It is always best to see the property in person once you arrive in Athens before making a decision.
4. Secure accommodation for when you arrive
You should secure a place to stay for when you arrive in Athens. This helps to reduce the stress while searching for your residence. You could ask a friend to host you for a while or book temporary accommodation, like a hostel or an Airbnb.
Don’t lock yourself into a long-term lease or put in an offer before you arrive in Athens. You should come to Athens and see the property for yourself to ensure it satisfies your requirements.
Dedicate at least 1-2 weeks to finding an apartment when you arrive. Book accommodation to cover this period to conduct your apartment search without feeling too much pressure.
When you arrive in Athens
One of the first things you should do is apply for a tax number (TIN), also known as an AFM. You need an AFM to work in Greece, open a bank account with a Greek bank, rent a house, and get utilities connected.
We recommend hiring an accountant to assist you with this. The accountant will provide you with a document to declare them as your tax representative. This document must be in the form of a solemn declaration, which means it must be signed in front of a government worker. You can do this at any KEP (citizen service centre), which you can find via a Google search. You might need to call to make an appointment, given the current health measures in place as of April 2022.
Once you have handled your AFM, you can start exploring the neighbourhoods on your list.
Where to search for apartments for rent in Athens?
Compared to other European capitals, finding apartments to rent in Athens is quite challenging, especially for foreigners. The most common options are searching via the main real estate platforms, using Facebook, and engaging a real estate agent.
1. Platform Search
The largest real estate platforms in Greece are Spitogatos.gr with 4.4m visits in January 2022 and xe.gr with 3.2m visits according to Similarweb.
On the Spitogatos platform, you can filter on size, suburb, price and other characteristics. Use the "Listing Creation" filter to display only the most recent listings. This way, you will have the opportunity to see new properties before they are rented by someone else. You will also save time by avoiding properties that remain listed on the platform for months after they have been rented.
Tip - Spitogatos Search Request
Spitogatos offer a tool called the Search Request, where you submit your criteria to selected real estate agencies. Your information is shared with potentially hundreds of agents who may then contact you to present their properties. This can lead to a situation whereby your phone rings non-stop for days, and it can become a little overwhelming.
If you decide to use this feature, it may be preferable to just leave your email address and withhold your phone number. This way, you can only be contacted via email. Alternatively, you could select the specific agencies you wish to share your details with.
2. Facebook Groups
Facebook Groups and Facebook Marketplace are popular solutions for foreigners searching for an apartment for rent in Athens. Here are some of the most popular groups:
- Expats in Athens
- Apartments/Rooms/Houses for Rent/Sale (Greece)
- Rent Athens Greece
- Athens Greece Apartments/ Rooms for Rent/Sale - Digital Nomads
- Rent Athens Greece
Room-sharing culture is not as common in Athens as in other European countries. Moreover, landlords are generally more sceptical of room sharing, so there may not be that many properties available. Many Greeks would prefer to live in a 20m² studio rather than share a larger apartment with a roommate. Facebook groups seem to be the main way people find rooms within a flatshare. If you do find a room-share, it is likely that your roommates will also be foreigners.
3. Use a Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents may be able to assist you with your property search. Agents typically charge a fee equivalent to one month’s rent in order to help renters find a property. A Google search in your chosen neighbourhood (“real estate agent Pagkrati”) will show you which local agencies are highly rated. Look for those with good reviews in English posted in the last six months. Create a shortlist and arrange an appointment. Let the agent know your preferred neighbourhood and property type.
If you find a property advertised by an agent on a real estate platform, they might expect you to pay a fee. Keep in mind that the same property may be advertised by multiple agents, as well as the landlord themselves. It may be worthwhile sifting through the listings to see if there is a listing from the owner. This way, you can contact them directly and avoid paying an agent fee.
It is important to note that landlords are generally looking for longer-term tenancies. The default duration of a tenancy is three years for a primary residence. When a property is rented, the landlord also pays the agent a fee typically equivalent to one month’s rent + VAT. This fee is charged even in the cases of short-term tenancies (say six months). After the tenancy is finished, the landlord will relist their property and pay this fee again when a new tenant is found. So over a three year period, a landlord might pay an agency fee six times if they opt for short-term tenancies. Whereas they would only pay this once if they opted for a three-year lease with a long-term tenant. As a result, landlords might be discouraged from offering their properties for short-term durations via real estate agencies.
Tip - Contact the listing owner ASAP
Whenever you find an apartment of your liking, you should call the owner/agent immediately. Try to arrange a viewing as soon as possible. Don't make the mistake of adding it to your favourites and waiting until the weekend. Don't send an email and expect a reply. You should call them right away. If they do not respond, send a text message and an email as a backup, and put a reminder on your phone to call them again in an hour. Due to the limited supply of rental properties, good opportunities are instantly snapped up, so acting fast is crucial.
Once you have arranged a viewing, here are our top tips:
- Arrive twenty minutes early so that you can walk around the neighbourhood. Take note of the amenities in the area, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, parks and public transport. Try to see the area during the evening too, to get an idea of how safe it feels at night.
- When you arrive at the building, check its general condition. Check the entrance, the elevator, and the staircase. Ask any questions for the building or the neighbours and the building manager.
- Pay attention to the condition of the property. Check the interior layout, and ask about the heating system, the air conditioning, and the frames. Ask if there has been any recent inspection or renovation of the electrical and plumbing systems.
- See what furniture and appliances the lease includes. This may impact your budget and what you may need to buy to equip the house accordingly.
Tip - Show why you would be a good tenant
In demand properties are snapped up quickly, so you should be prepared to do what is necessary to stand out. Come prepared to point out your strengths, e.g. job, profession, income, references.
Give a good reason initially to the agent and then to the owner to choose you as a tenant. You can print out your resume, proof of a job offer, and how much income you will be earning while in Athens. Alternatively, you might provide a bank statement to prove the savings you have to cover your stay.
If you find a home that meets your needs and you come to an agreement with the owner, you can start putting a contract together.
A lease contract must include the details of the two parties and the property to be leased. The landlord will typically require your passport, and you should ask for the same. The minimum duration of a lease contract in Greece for a primary residence is three years, even if the contract stipulates a shorter period. You should explicitly state that your agreement is for a secondary residence, as the duration is freely negotiable.
The rights and obligations of the landlord and the tenant are also freely negotiable.
- Rent amount: The determination of the rent and the payment method should be included in the contract. Watch out for any terms related to the landlord's right to increase the rent annually.
- Deposit or bond: Generally, the deposit is equivalent to one or two months' rent, depending on whether the property is furnished. Most contracts state that the bond will be returned at the end of the lease, so long as no damage was caused to the property, and all outstanding bills have been paid.
- Shared expenses: These expenses are associated with the common areas of the building, such as electricity, central heating, elevator maintenance, cleaning etc. There may also be expenses related to repairs, i.e. sewage pipes. They are typically charged in addition to rent; however, the landlord may charge a rental that includes the shared expenses.
- If the landlord has not provided you with a dual language contract, you should ask someone who speaks Greek to assist you.
Tip: how to pay shared expenses
Each month you should receive a notice from the building manager that provides a breakdown of the expenses. Most building managers divide these into the expenses for the tenant/occupant and the expenses for the landlord.
As a rule of thumb, the tenant is responsible for the shared expenses of regular usage of the common areas. At the same time, the landlord is burdened with the costs of larger repairs, such as replacement of pipes, common areas painting, and contribution to the common reserve fund.
It is common for tenants to pay the entire amount to the building manager. In this case, they deduct the share attributable to the landlord from their next rent payment. You should communicate this option with your landlord to ensure that they are okay with it. Where possible, insist on paying the common expenses via bank transfer. Always get a receipt, keep your own records, and let your landlord know each time you have paid.
Accept the contract in Taxisnet
When you get your AFM (Greek tax number), you should also receive a username and password to access Taxisnet, an online platform for taxes.
Your landlord will have to declare the contract on Taxisnet, and you will need to accept it. Your accountant can assist you with this process, as the Taxisnet platform can be confusing and difficult to navigate.
Moving into the house
When you move into your new apartment, make sure you conduct an inspection and change over the utility bills. This will help to prevent issues during the tenancy and when you move out.
Inspection of the house
On the move-in day, you should inspect the property’s condition. Even if the owner does not accompany you to the inspection, you should do it independently. Take good-quality photos and videos of everything in the house so that you can record the existing condition of the house. The inspection sets the expectation of the condition that you should return the house. Recording the initial condition reduces the risk of unreasonable deductions taken from your deposit at the end of the lease.
Change the utility bills
Utility bills are the bills that you get from the electricity, water and gas companies. In Athens, the water company is EYDAP, and the main electricity company is DEH or PPC. It is good practice to sign up to receive these bills in your own name when you move into your new house. To connect or change any utility, you need the PDF of the rent contract declaration from Taxisnet. These days most of the providers have English-compatible websites that allow you to sign up.
If it is not possible to change the bills into your name, you need to follow up with your landlord frequently so that they can send you the bills. This will help you to keep on top of your payments and your budget. Some landlords are not as vigilant and may wait for long periods before informing you of outstanding bills. These amounts can add up and may cause a little shock when your landlord finally tells you that you owe, say €420, for the last six months. It would be much better to have paid 70 euros each month instead.
Conclusion - How to rent an apartment in Athens
Finding a place in Athens as a foreigner can be challenging. Organize your move to Athens in advance, and learn about the renting process in Greece. These steps will help you:
- Consider your main search criteria and research your preferred neighbourhoods and their price ranges.
- Secure temporary accommodation in Athens while searching for an apartment to rent to take the pressure off.
- Decide how you will search for properties. Do you want to search independently on online platforms and Facebook Groups? Or maybe you prefer an agent’s assistance? In any case, you should know what to expect and what to pay attention to.
- Check out the house and the area extensively. Point out your strengths to the owner and give them a good reason to choose you as their tenant.
- Get informed on the important terms of lease contracts, such as the duration, rent, deposit, shared expenses etc.
- After ensuring that everything meets your expectations, you can accept the lease contract.
- Don't forget to record the condition of the house on move-in day!
If you are searching for an apartment, take a look at HOMI’s apartments for rent in Athens.