You move into a new home, everything seems to be going well, and then the landlord performs an action that shocks you. Whether a price increase or an eviction, it’s not usually a nice surprise (and one that could have been prevented by looking properly at the lease agreement!). With this in mind, here are some things all tenants should look for in a lease agreement before signing.
As the name suggests, a duration clause will set out the time for which you’re under contract as tenants. Generally speaking, most landlords will choose one year as the duration. However, what happens at the end of this year? Will you need to renew? Will your contract renew automatically? This is important because you don’t want to be forced into staying longer than initially planned. Likewise, you don’t want to get a last-minute warning and then scrabble around for somewhere to live.
Next, you should pay attention to the rental terms so that you know the starting rent, what this rent covers, when rent is reviewed (if at all), and the potential for price increases. Before starting a contract, you need to understand when a rent review will occur and the method used for this review.
While some companies like Red Wagon Properties property management might compare the property against the current market, others compare against CPI (consumer price index) or increase the rent by a fixed percentage each year. If you’re planning to rent the property for a prolonged period, this detail is essential in a lease agreement.
Sadly, this is where some tenants go wrong, and it leaves them responsible for general wear and tear. When they’re informed at the end of the contract, they either lose a significant chunk of the deposit or are forced into redecorating. Either way, the tenant is out of pocket. Therefore, look at the small print and check who covers wear and tear.
Simultaneously, you should get any potential repairs in writing before signing a contract. Did you notice a leaky tap when viewing the property? Perhaps the landlord has promised a new washing machine? If this is the case, ensure that this is written into the lease agreement. You should also check for other promises – this could be regular window cleaning, redecoration, deck scrubbing, pool cleaning, etc.
If something isn’t in the lease agreement, it’s harder to enforce later. If you’re concerned about anything in the small print, contact the agent or landlord to discuss it.
For both individuals and businesses, you should also check for quiet enjoyment terms within the lease agreement. What does this mean? Well, it allows the tenants to enjoy the property and use it as they wish (within the confines of the lease agreement, of course). In other words, the landlord is limited in how they can interfere, how much they visit the property, etc. Especially for businesses, you don’t want the landlord to interfere with anything.
Finally, tenants often look for the spectacular with lease agreements and forget to check the basics. You’ll need to check the names on the agreement, the type of tenancy (single or joint), occupancy limits, rules on guests and pets, terms and rent, deposits and other charges, maintenance responsibilities, and other details.
To prevent shocks later down the line, make sure you understand the lease duration, how the contract extends (or ends), the rental terms, wear and tear responsibility, and similar clauses. The more you understand the lease agreement, the happier you’ll be in the property!