Russian Language Blog

5 Things You Should Know About Renting Apartments In Russia Posted by on Apr 6, 2017 in Russian life, when in Russia

If you are planning an extended trip to Russia, renting a place is one of the things to arrange for your stay. Here are five things you should keep in mind about property rentals in Russia.

apartment building

Image from Unsplash

1. Few(er) People Live In Rented Apartments

Before 1991, most Russians technically rented (снимали) their apartments from the government. After apartments were privatized in the 90s, most people own their house, and renting (аренда or съём квартиры) is seen as unstable and undesirable. As a result, many fewer people rent apartments in Russia than in other developed countries (even if that means living with your parents or grandparents).

Для сравне́ния: в Росси́и в со́бственности нахо́дится о́коло 70-80 проце́нтов жилья́, в то вре́мя как в США и Евро́пе э́тот показа́тель не превыша́ет 40-60 проце́нтов. И ры́нок аре́нды жилы́х помеще́ний там процвета́ет и счита́ется одно́й из наибо́лее удо́бных и цивилизо́ванных форм улучше́ния свои́х жили́щных усло́вий. Так, в Герма́нии о́коло 65 проце́нтов населе́ния снима́ет кварти́ры, во Фра́нции и США э́тот показа́тель не́сколько ни́же – 30-40 проце́нтов. А вот в Росси́и аренду́ют жильё лишь 7 проце́нтов городско́го населе́ния.

[To compare: about 70 to 80 percent of all residential space is owned in Russia, whereas in the US or Europe this figure does not go above 40 to 60 percent. Residential rental market is flourishing there and is seen as one of the most convenience and civilized ways of improving your housing situation. For instance, around 65 percent of people rent apartments in Germany; that proportion is a bit lower in France and the US — 30 to 40 percent. Still, only 7 percent of urban residents rent their homes.]


2. Most Properties Belong To Private Landlords

While people in Europe and the US may be used to renting an apartment from a real estate company (агентство недвижимости), most apartments in Russia are rented directly from private owners. This could be explained by the high rate of ownership mentioned above. The same source notes:

….е́сли на За́паде аре́нда кварти́р – би́знес кру́пных корпора́ций и компа́ний, в Росси́и э́тот ры́нок наводнён ча́стниками, для мно́гих из кото́рых сда́ча жилья́ явля́ется еди́нственным исто́чником дохо́да.

[While most apartments in the West are rented by large corporations and companies, in Russia this market is full of individual landlords, and, for many of them, renting out apartments is the sole source of income.]

3. Most Rentals Are Unofficial

Perhaps in an attempt to avoid red tape or paying taxes (налоги) on their rental income, many landlords rent their properties “under the table.” Another article says:

…в сегме́нте аре́ндного жилья́ до 2 ты́сяч до́лларов всего́ 3-5% со́бственников сдаю́т кварти́ры лега́льно и в соотве́тствии с зако́ном.

[… in the under-$2000 rental segment, only 2 to 3 percent of owners rent apartments legally and in compliance with the law.]

People interviewed for both articles quoted above recommend having an official contract (договор) in place; otherwise, the renter may be left defenseless in the face of a minimum-notice eviction (выселение).

table and chairs

Image from Unsplash

4. Apartments Tend To Be Furnished

Because most apartments belong to individuals as opposed to companies, they usually come with the landlord’s furniture (мебель) and appliances. This can make the renters’ life easier because they don’t need to bring their own furniture, but it can also limit their choices of what their apartment looks like. Renting unfurnished apartments is seen as a novelty:

Е́сли вы реши́ли снять кварти́ру без ме́бели, хозя́ин мо́жет предложи́ть вам возмеще́ние ча́сти су́ммы, кото́рую вы потра́тите на её поку́пку. Одна́ко вы та́кже смо́жете договори́ться о том, что заберёте всё ку́пленное с собо́й.

[If you decide to rent an unfurnished apartment, the owner may offer to compensate you for part of the amount you spend on buying furniture. However, you can also arrange to take the things you buy with you.]

5. Utilities Are Included

Because the owner usually remains the legal tenant in the eyes of the authorities, it is the owner who pays for utilities (коммунальные услуги). However, this may breed animosity between the renters and apartment owners in the same building because the owners think the renters do not pay their fair share of utilities. Authorities may encourage people to report “under the table” rentals:

В не́которых дома́х в Москве́ … появи́лись листо́вки от упра́в, призыва́ющие сосе́дей сообща́ть о квартиросъёмщиках, ведь они́ “во́ду и свет вору́ют”.

[Posters from housing authorities have appeared in some Moscow buildings… urging neighbors to report renters because they “steal water and electricity.”]

Have you ever had to rent housing or have you been in a rented apartment in Russia? Did anything stand out to you?

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.