When signing your first contract, it’s tempting to skim over the words and assume that everything on that sheet of paper is good to go. However, it is important to ensure you don’t miss anything that may cause you issues in the future. A leasing contract is legally binding and works to clarify many potential misunderstandings that could occur between a resident and a landlord.
Here are some general recommendations for when it comes time to sign:
1. Always make sure there is a tenancy agreement to sign
Having a record of the agreement allows for the protection of all parties involved. We highly recommend not getting involved in a rental situation where your future property manager does not provide a contract. Having a tenancy agreement clearly lays out the obligations and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant, which can help avoid confusion and disputes later on.
2. Read the entire contract
If you do not feel comfortable with reading it, or feel that you do not have the legal knowledge to thoroughly understand the contract, do not sign it. Either return with someone you trust that can overlook the agreement for you or ask for a copy to read over on your own time prior to signing.
Make note of the following aspects of the contract prior to signing:
- The amount and due date of monthly rent.
- The format in which rent is accepted (may not necessarily be on the contract).
- Services included (utilities, parking, and other amenities).
- Any potential fees the landlord may charge you and reasons for these fees.
- Maintenance responsibilities of residents.
- Guidelines for subletting, evictions, and conduct.
- Agreement of apartment condition: Contracts will often include an agreement claiming that the apartment is in pristine condition. However, if you know that there are specific damages or maintenance issues, it’s important to note this in the contract to establish that you will not be held responsible for something you didn’t do.
3. Ensure Validity of the Agreement
When leasing a property, verifying the tenancy agreement is valid and legally binding is important. A valid agreement is one that has been entered into freely and voluntarily by both the landlord and tenant and that it meets all the legal requirements for a tenancy agreement in your jurisdiction. To guarantee this, there are several things to keep in mind:
- Check the terms of the agreement: Ensure the terms of the agreement are clear and fair and reasonable for both parties.
- Assure the agreement is signed by all parties: This includes the landlord and tenant.
- Check for any illegal terms: Review the agreement for any terms that are illegal or contrary to the law in your jurisdiction. For example, it may be illegal for a landlord to require a tenant to waive their legal rights or to charge an excessive security deposit.
- Ensure the agreement complies with local laws: This may include laws related to tenant rights, security deposits, and eviction procedures, among others. If you aren’t familiar with the local laws, it’s important to enlist someone who can help you make sense of the contract, especially if some parts of the agreement feel off or suspicious.
4. Review Termination Clauses
It’s important to know what is expected of you if you wish to end your lease agreement early or once it has expired. An early termination fee may be required, or a sublet arrangement may be allowed. It’s also wise to understand the specific situations in which a landlord can evict you (for personal use, renovations or bad faith evictions) and your rights.
Our team at CLV Group and InterRent REIT has ample experience executing leasing agreements. If you have any questions, one of our Community Leasing Agents will be happy to help you out. For more information, get in touch with us today or browse our current apartment listings.