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Sign a lease agreement to safeguard your interests

By Martin Dias | May 5th 2016
Many tenants prefer an oral agreement between them and their prospective landlords. But this method is not safe as it has no reference point. (PHOTO: COURTESY)

Signing a lease agreement is important for tenants. A lease is vital for anyone intending to rent or buy a home. It tells you what is expected of you as a tenant and outlines the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant.

A lease states the duration the tenant is supposed to be on the property, thus enhancing harmony between landlords and tenants. Signing a property lease makes adjustment easy. This is due to the fact that it states the expiry date, rights and the expectations.

A genuine and legal property lease contains the following: Name of the tenant and the landlord, a description of the rental unit, the amount of rent and the date it is due, the mode of payment, methods to terminate the agreements, amenities and facilities on the premises, rules and regulations among others.

Many people prefer being “tenants at will” as they view the entire process of signing a lease as time consuming.

This scenario has become common and it is providing an easy breeding ground for dubious real estate agents. Many tenants prefer an oral agreement between them and their prospect landlords. But this method is not safe as it has no reference point and may render you homeless before you know it.

It is important to note that lease agreements are binding. Many people living in rental houses often complain of challenges such as inconsiderate landlords, impromptu rent increases as well as discreditable maintenance of houses.

These challenges can be resolved by a well detailed lease agreement.

In as much as a lease is important to both the landlord and the tenant, Georgia Legal Aid Organisation advises that tenants should never agree to sign a lease agreement that allows for an automatic renewal because that could lead to manipulation.

A long lease with penalties for early termination can be very disappointing, especially when you get an untimely job transfer. Always consider a friendly lease with negotiating terms for early termination.

Read your lease agreement carefully to avoid signing an agreement that allows automatic rent increases during the lease term.

Though rent increment is in most cases affected by the country’s inflation rate, it should not be automatic.

Any rule given to a tenant should reflect on the signed agreement, otherwise tenants should not adhere to rules which are not provided in the lease. Repairs should not be left for tenant and it advisable to ensure you resist any attempt by the landlord to make you responsible for repairs unless they are minor such as fixing broken window panes or spoilt door knob.

Additionally, a tenant should reject leases which provide that the tenants pay the landlord directly for utilities rather than being billed by the utility provider.

Provisions which require the tenants to pay the landlord’s attorney fees if a landlord hires one to enforce the lease should not be accepted unless the provision also makes the landlord responsible for the tenant’s attorney’s fees. Do not rent a house blindly as you may end up spending more than you should.

— The writer is the CEO of FAPCL Group.

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