It is estimated that about 5 million people will leave Ukraine due to the Russian invasion. They will seek shelter from the war mainly in Poland. Over 1 million people have already crossed our border. Every day, about 100000 more flees to Poland and they are mostly women with children.
“Let’s assume that half of all refugees, i.e. 2.5 million, will go to Poland. This is a lot” says Jacek Kusiak, co-founder and president of the nationwide Association of Apartment Owners for Rent “Mieszkanicznik”.
If so approx. 500000 will come to Warsaw, the capital will increase by approx. 25 percent. There will be a huge demand and pressure the rental market.
“There are 1 million apartment owners in Poland who offer about 2 million apartments for rent. Maybe 10 percent is empty.” estimates Jacek Kusiak. “The market is very absorbent, it has revived after the pandemic. In Warsaw, the apartments are empty for a week or two” he points out.
The situation is difficult. “We absolutely must help the refugees. But we have to think in the long term” emphasizes the president of “Mieszkanicznik”.
The association also appeals to apartment owners not to raise rates and to provide professional tenant service.
Jakub Rybacki, deputy head of the macroeconomics team of the Polish Economic Institute (PIE), also talks about the big challenge. “The final scale of migration is so far impossible to estimate” he reserves.
“In Poland there are about 200000 apartments per year. It is not enough to meet the needs of the refugees who have already arrived in the country.
Coordinated action by EU is needed
Not everyone will have sufficient funds for commercial rental, let alone buying an apartment. Coordinated action by EU countries is likely to be needed to provide a shelter for those fleeing from war.
According to Jakub Rybacki, migration will maintain high demand for flats, and the rental market will also expand. “In such conditions, real estate prices will continue to grow even at a double-digit pace” predicts the PIE expert.
The number of apartment reservations by Ukrainian citizens has been growing rapidly since the beginning of the attack on Ukraine, which can be seen in the statistics, for example, on the Renters.pl portal.
“It’s about 75 percent all bookings in large cities such as Warsaw, Krakow. There are days when it is even 85%. reservations in individual locations” indicates Kamil Krzyżanowski, president of Renters.pl.
The pool of apartments in Warsaw and Krakow is much smaller than two weeks ago. “In other locations, the choice is still the largest one by the sea” – says Kamil Krzyżanowski.
“The market is balanced thanks to the help of Poles who provide houses and flats, organise help and shelter.
Many bookings at Renters.pl are made by relocation companies. They are looking for apartments for companies and their employees. One company is able to “deliver” up to 80 stays” says Krzyżanowski.
“We constantly receive phone calls with questions from companies cooperating with us, most of them concerning Warsaw. Some companies based in Poland are looking for a place to stay for remote workers evacuated to Poland.”
Temporary accommodation for the refugees
The refugees are currently looking for temporary accommodation. “Most are reservations for two or three weeks. They are the longest for a month. The citizens of Ukraine hope that the war will end soon” Krzyżanowski explains.
Ads for free help, including accommodation offers, go to the “For Ukraine” category on OLX. -“Refugees from Ukraine were warmly welcomed in Poland” emphasises Jarosław Krawczyk, an expert of the Otodom portal (OLX Group).
“Announcements can also be found on social networks. The places of refuge are made available by local governments and charity organisations.
These spontaneous gestures are temporary help, and the long-term effects of the war are difficult to predict. We do not know how it will end, how many refugees will want to return to the country, how many will continue their journey, and how many will stay in Poland.
Therefore, it is difficult to estimate whether the Polish rental market is sufficiently capacious” he explains. And he gives statistics.
“We noticed increased traffic from the territory of Ukraine on our website just before the Russian invasion. Comparing the first and last weeks of February, traffic from Ukraine increased by 18 percent, and the number of users who had not visited our website before by as much as 42 percent.” he says.
Joanna Jakimowicz from the Krakow branch of Power Invest notes that the situation on the rental market in Krakow was difficult even before Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
“The offer isn’t extensive enough” she says. Some help in providing them with accommodation. Some, however, are afraid to rent them for a short time, and many have such expectations. Concerns also apply to the solvency of this group of customers.
According to Joanna Jakimowicz, the scale of the influence of Ukrainian clients on the real estate market in Poland can be assessed after a month or two.
“We will see how the situation in Ukraine is developing, how many citizens have treated Poland as a stop on their way to the West.” She predicts.
Marcin Jańczuk, expert of the Metrohouse network agency says “It is becoming increasingly difficult to find housing for refugees in the largest cities.
Ukrainians want to live in Warsaw, Kraków, but also in Rzeszów and Lublin. We have very few questions about cities in the west of the country.
The premises disappear from the bases immediately, but there are also intransigent owners who do not want to sign short-term contracts. It is difficult for refugees to predict how much they will need housing, so they do not want to be bound by long contracts.
Locally, the demand significantly exceeds the supply. The list of available apartments is actually getting shorter day by day. The solution may be to convert to rent empty homes that have been waiting for buyers for a long time.
You can also designate hotel buildings with a similar purpose. It will be difficult to meet the demand only through private letting. The support of local governments is needed.” He thinks.
In other words housing seems to be difficult for the Ukrainians in Poland but it should be easier for them to find work.