The what, when and how of lease agreements
By Sadiya Anjum
As far as renting goes, a verbal contract in the beginning holds just as good as a written one. But common sense and the need to simplify things dictate that we put down details in writing to avoid any future misunderstandings. Whether you’re the tenant or the landlord, you need to know all you can about lease agreements before you bind yourself in contract with another person. This article throws light upon the subject of lease agreements for a better understanding of the same.
A lease form should ideally be produced and paid for by the landlord. While the details in the form may differ from one to another, the general contents remain the same. As all agreements go, the form should first highlight the parties involved in the contract. Therefore it should contain the name, address and other important details regarding both the landlord and the tenant. The location of the property should be stated accurately with a postal address.
The term of tenancy, from the exact date of occupation to the exact date of evacuation must be stated. This section can also include a clause to extend the period of tenancy if the tenant and the landlord mutually consent to do so. As far as the rent goes, the amount of money to be paid and the date on which it should be paid must be specified. Same goes for the security deposit. The amount of deposit that will be refunded after various deductions (the percentage including repairs etc.) can also be stated. An agreement regarding non-increment of rent for a certain period of time can be specified to safeguard the rights of the tenant.
As far as utilities, appliances and services go, this should be mentioned in as much detail as possible. In some cases, the landlord maybe willing to provide for these utilities or the tenant will have to take care of it him/herself. Elaboration on this point can save a lot of energy and effort later. But damage to the property must be compensated by the tenant through repair or on monetary terms. Stipulations regarding number of family members, pets, smoking and other miscellaneous details ought to be included.
Other details like when a landlord is permitted to enter premises or inspect the property should be incorporated. The tenant should ensure that a clause is dedicated to his/her privacy. The condition of the premises must be stated clearly and the tenant should verify this after inspecting the property. Maintenance of the premises – the duties that the landlord and tenant should perform regarding this must be added. Conditions on alterations in the property, locks and security devices, taxes etc. should be stated clearly.
Watch out for the nature of the agreement. If it is a fixed agreement then the tenant maybe bound to continue to occupy or at least pay the required rent until the stated period comes to an end. Grounds on which a landlord can evict his tenant should be mentioned clearly and the tenant should be fully aware of this so as to not violate the agreement in ignorance. Similarly, the period of time (notice) the tenant should provide and reasons for which he/she can evacuate the place must be taken into consideration. A clause on subletting may also be agreed upon.
Apart from this, be aware of the laws on renting in your state. It is very easy to obtain a free form of lease online, but it is preferable to have it drafted by a lawyer so you can tailor it according to your requirements. But the most important thing that you should do is reading the agreement and fully understanding the implications of it before you put your signature on it.
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