Before you sign the dotted lines renting that posh flat or new accommodation, here are a few things you should check out in the tenancy agreement.
1. Names of Parties and Description of Premises: Any standard agreement contains the names of the parties to it as well as their addresses. Your tenancy agreement therefore should contain your name as the tenant and that of your new landlord along with both addresses.
Also, check the agreement to be sure that the premises you intend to rent is adequately described in the agreement. The address, number of rooms, what floor the apartment is located on, apartment number are some of the descriptions that you may find in a tenancy agreement.
2. Term of Tenancy: Does the agreement state that the tenancy is for a fixed term or term certain i.e. a year, two years or six months and non-renewable after that? If it does, this simply means that after this period expires, you have to move out of the property as the tenancy cannot be renewed or extended.
If however, the tenancy provides for subsequent renewal after the tenancy period, you can stay on for another term by simply paying for the next term. For example, if you rent an apartment for a period of a year and at its expiration, you pay for the next year, a new tenancy year automatically begins for you.
3. Sub-letting: Some tenants decide to rent out a portion of the rented property to a sub-tenant. Such tenants would need to find out before hand if subletting is prohibited by the tenancy agreement or if they would require the consent of the landlord before such subletting can be done.
4. Notice to quit: Just in case, your landlord should decide in future to eject you from his property, it is very important to know the amount of notice that the agreement stipulates he should give you as a tenant. The standard period of notice required for a yearly tenant is six months; for a monthly tenancy, one month and for a weekly tenancy, a week’s notice.
5. How to terminate the agreement: Perhaps you intend to build or acquire your own place or you plan to relocate to another area after a while, it is wise to know beforehand what the agreement requires you to do in terms of the state in which to leave the property, the amount of notice to be given etc to avoid unnecessary legal hassles.
6. Utilities, Maintenance and Repairs: Find out who has the responsibility to pay what according to the agreement so you do not get stuck with payments you did not bargain for. Look out for payments of things like the insurance, water bill, Land Use Charge, ground rent, estate dues etc. Also, check the tenancy agreement to see if a service charge/ fee is charged in addition to the rent.
Also, check your responsibilities for maintaining the property and who has the responsibility for repairs within the rented property.
It is important to read the agreement thoroughly and make sure that you understand it to see if the terms or provisions in it are suitable for you before signing and ensure to keep a copy for yourself. Where you do not understand the provisions of the tenancy agreement, ask a lawyer to explain the implications of those provisions to you.