So you’ve fallen in love with your new place and are already texting your friends to see who’s free to accompany you to Ikea. When the agent passes you the rental agreement, you sign it without looking at it. I mean, nobody reads these things anyway, right?
Wrong! Do that and you might find yourself fighting over the security deposit or, worse, out on the streets with nowhere to go. Here are 5 things you should look out for before signing a rental agreement.
1. Reinstating the Property When You Vacate
Eventually, you are going to have to leave. When that happens, things might get ugly. Was that yellow stain on the wall there before you moved in? And when exactly did the door fall off the hinges?
Your rental agreement should contain a clause indicating the state and condition the property must be returned in at the end of the lease.
Before your move in, take photos of the premises, checking for any defects like cracks in the walls, chips and stains. Email them to your landlord or agent so they can’t later turn around and blame you for damages that were already there at the start.
2. Whether Utilities Are Included
It sounds like a no-brainer now, but you wouldn’t believe how many people get so excited they completely forget to ask about basics like electricity and water.
Your rental agreement should indicate if they’re included in the price of the rent or if you’re going to have to pay for them separately.
If the latter applies, check how the cost is going to be divided if you’ll be living on the property with housemates or the landlord.
3. What Happens if You Don’t Pay Your Rent
While we sure hope you aren’t already planning to default on your rent, it’s always nice to see in gory detail what will happen to you if you do fail to pay up.
Your rental agreement will spell out in no uncertain terms what your landlord is entitled to do, whether it’s reentering the premises and locking you out, tossing all your stuff out on the streets or booby trapping your room. It also helps to know what how many days you have after your rent is due before your landlord can start to take action.
4. Who is Responsible for Repairs
Maybe your air con has started spewing fire and brimstone or the toilet is threatening to turn the bathroom into a swamp of death.
If you check your rental agreement beforehand, you will know who should be responsible for repairs. Before signing, try to ensure your landlord agrees to cover major repairs related to electricity, air conditioning and plumbing.
5. Rules Relating to Conduct and Use of the Property
Most landlords will come up with at least a few rules governing your conduct on the premises, and while disobedience won’t get you detention at this age, it could well get you evicted or your security deposit confiscated, depending on what the contract says.
If your landlord forbids visitors and pets, allows you to drink alcohol only in your room or expects you to cook only at certain times of day, you’d best remember it.
Have you learnt anything useful from renting a home? Tell us in the comments!