Being a new tenant in a house usually comes with a mixed feeling. It might either be the feeling of having to change the environment and breaking into a new ground or meeting with new set of neighbors and relating with a brand new landlord or caretaker who are different from the previous ones.
However, one thing that cannot be ruled out is the fact that your tenancy is under a new management and before it can be confirmed, you must definitely put your signature and that of your guarantors on a written document fondly regarded as an agreement. This is the deed of contract that binds you and your landlord for a definite term.
And until you sign this, you are not yet a tenant under the provisions of law no matter how much you have paid as rent and extra charges. Before you append your signature on the agreement, there are certain content you must watch out in order not to sign yourself into trouble.
1. The first thing you must take note is the origin of the agreement. Under a normal circumstance, an agreement between landlord and a tenant must originate from a certified legal practitioner. Agreement must be binding by law and for this to happen, a lawyer must be involved.
In case of likely disagreement between the two parties, it is the lawyer that will step in and interpret the term of contract in a clear term. And in a situation where the landlord wants to go against the initial arrangement with the tenant, it is the lawyer that will call him to order and explain the implication of his action in line with the agreement.
Hence, if an agreement is not written, signed and stamped by a legal practitioner with a physical address, please don't sign it or else, you will end up being a pawn in the hand of the landlord.
2. Another thing you must look out for is the rules and regulations that guard your conduct and existence as a tenant in that premises. There are landlords who will forget what is written in the agreement and come up with a rule that is more convinient for them without minding the inconveniences on their tenants
For instance, if it is written in the agreement document that by 9pm, the main gate will be closed and no one is either allowed to go out or come in for security reason, then your landlord decides to follow his mind by locking the gate an hour before the agreed time, this is a breach of agreement.
But you will not know if you don't familiarize yourself with the rules written in the document. You must critically examine all the dos and don't in the paper before you sign.
3. The third thing you need to know is the tenure of rent. It must be well stated if you are to be paying per annum, six months or monthly. If your rent is per annum, your landlord has no right to make a demand for another rent until you completely exhaust the current one.
There are situation where landlord will compel a tenant to make an extra payment before the expiration of the running rent just to meet a nagging financial demand. Even if you are going to make such a payment, it should be by choice and not by compulsion.
4. Lastly, you must ensure that your refundable damages is written in the agreement. This will clearly state that you will be refunded of your damages if nothing get damaged in the apartment while you are leaving.
If this is not stated in the agreement, it may be difficult for you to reclaim your money when the time comes. Some landlords are very smart and always unwilling to make such a refund despite not damaging anything in the apartment. But with your copy of agreement signed and stamped by lawyer, you can recover your money.
These are key things you need to take note in the agreement document before you append your signature.
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