Tenants often don’t read carefully through the terms and conditions contained in their lease agreement and this can cause problems down the road. A properly drafted lease agreement will ensure that both parties’ rights are protected. Both parties must ensure that all the necessary information is included in the lease agreement, along with any additional arrangements discussed.
Enquire about costs and duration
The monthly rental cost and duration of the lease (including specific dates) must clearly be stated in the lease agreement to avoid any confusion regarding this matter. The lease agreement should also clearly indicate how and when any increases in rent will take place.
The lease should clearly explain any deposits (e.g. the rental deposit) that have to be paid, how it will be invested, as well as the terms and conditions regarding the refund of deposits. All other variable usage expenses (like water or electricity) that the tenant will have to pay should also be clearly stated.
Some rental properties include utilities within the monthly rental cost, while others don’t. Before you sign the lease to a property, ask your landlord what is included in the rental rate.
Get information regarding changes to the property
Once the landlord has agreed to rent out his property to you, make sure that you document any pre-existing damages to the property and its amenities before you sign the lease. Ask whether these damages can be fixed at the landlord’s expense.
Both the landlord and the tenant are responsible for the maintenance of the property, depending on the type of maintenance. The responsibilities of both parties should be clearly set out in the lease agreement. The lease agreement should also indicate how the tenant must report any problems that require repair and how long the landlord has to take appropriate action.
Make sure which alterations can be made to the property and whether it can be removed upon termination of the agreement, where applicable. Rather know the rules and stick to them, than making an alteration and then finding out afterwards that your landlord is unhappy with it or will retain ownership of it after your departure. Remember that in most instances you will not be allowed to paint walls or damage them in any way (including inserting screws or nails to hang pictures) or will be required to repair the walls (repaint to original colour and/or fix any damage cause by you).
Tenants must understand all the clauses, terms and conditions contained in the lease agreement to avoid any surprises later. A rental agreement is a legally binding document and tenants must understand and agree with everything contained therein before they sign it.
For more information regarding lease agreements, please contact:
Lisa Visagie | Partner
Areas of Expertise: Property Law | Conveyancing
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)