5 Things Tenants Need To Know Before Signing A Rental Agreement

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Tenants should remember that a rental agreement is a legally binding document which means they should be sure they understand all the points before signing.

While renting a property doesn’t require as much commitment financially and for as long-term as buying a home does, tenants should remember that a rental agreement is a legally binding document which means they should be sure they understand all the points they are agreeing to upon signature thereof.  Tenants often come unstuck when they take the signing of a rental agreement lightly and don’t familiarise themselves with all the terms and conditions contained therein.

A proper rental agreement will ensure both parties’ rights are protected. Tenants need to ensure that the points discussed with the homeowner or rental agent are in fact included in the agreement instead of just assuming they are.

Five points to consider before signing a lease agreement

1.The costs

The monthly rental amount must be clearly noted in a rental agreement. The agreement should also clearly detail and explain any deposits that need to be paid, such as a rental deposit and the utility deposit, as well as the terms and conditions surrounding the refund of deposits. All other variable usage expenses that the tenant will be liable for such as water and electricity should also be clearly noted. The rental agreement should also clearly indicate how and when any rental increases will be put into effect as well as payment terms and conditions.

2. The rules

If a rental property is situated in a stratified residential unit, there will be certain strata rules and regulations that tenants will be obliged to adhere to. No matter whether it’s a standalone home or within a stratified unit, the rental agreement should clearly state all the rules and regulations.

Rules around tenant behavior should also be clearly stipulated in the lease, and it is important for tenants to understand and agree to any clauses in the rental agreement outlining specific behavior that is prohibited. In the case of the property being situated in a stratified complex, the tenant needs to be made aware of the residential rules, which need to be obeyed. A copy of the rules should, therefore, be attached as an addendum to the rental agreement.

3. The duration

The duration of the rental should be clearly indicated, with specific dates included where applicable to avoid confusion around exactly when tenants can move in or should move out.

4. The termination clauses

There should also be a clear outline of the renewal process should the tenant and landlord wish to extend the rental. There should also be clear terms and conditions for the termination of the rental at the end of the rental period, as well as early termination clauses.

Tenants need to be sure of renewal and notice clauses as some agreement may require a certain notice period even if the tenant plans to vacate the property after the initial rental has expired. Failure to comply with the stipulated clauses could result in additional costs.

Tenants should also be clear on what the process and requirements are should they or the homeowner need to terminate the lease early. These clauses should clearly note the amount of notice required as well as what happens to the deposit should the rental be terminated early.

5.Rights and obligations

A sound rental agreement will always include clauses outlining both the homeowner and tenant rights and obligations. These include clauses that specify who may legally live on the property including any limitations around subletting. The circumstances in which the landlord can enter the unit should also be clearly outlined as well.

Considering that both the landlord and the tenant are responsible for maintaining the property, the obligations of each party need to be clearly spelled out in the lease agreement. This clause should also indicate how the tenant should report any problems that require repairs and outline the process that should take place when repairs are required.

Tenants should be very sure of the rental agreement contents and that they understand all the clauses, terms and conditions and are satisfied with them before signing to avoid any surprises later on.

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