Many of us know this subject from first-hand experience: childhood and youth spent at the family home, than university and living in a student hostel, in lodgings or in a flat shared with other students, after graduation – work, marriage, better work, credit, and finally the long-coveted own flat. After all, as Marta Skowrońska wrote, “better a poor thing but my own, with a mortgage, but at least you don’t put the money in the owner’s pocket, and you know it’s yours.” Once burdened by a mortgage and living in a flat you (don’t really) own, we become irreproachable and mature citizens.

However, there are people – and their numbers are growing – who change this pattern. Not always willingly, they add another element to it – renting out a room or a flat.

Renting flats is certainly neither a new phenomenon nor a marginal one, especially in Germany, Holland, Switzerland, or the Scandinavian countries. In Poland, however, it looks slightly different. Our specificity stems from several factors, among them: the low standard of flats for rent; their being cluttered with the owners’ items and furniture, especially the inevitable highly-polished wall units that mustn’t be, under any circumstances, altered or thrown away; the high rent; and the cult of private ownership that is still prevalent in Poland, even if the flats in fact belong to the bank until the mortgage has been repaid.

These are the issues that Natalia Fiedorczuk’s book is about. Together with authors of texts that it contains – Marta Skowrońska and Filip Schmidt – we will think about the phenomenon of renting flats, living with flatmates and making a home. The discussion will be moderated by Katarzyna Wala.