A happy tenant-landlord relationship is dependent on a give-and-take philosophy, where both parties recognise their individual duties or responsibilities as well as their rights. This also holds true for any legally binding agreement between two parties. These obligations and rights should be clearly covered in the lease agreement containing all the terms and conditions governing the relationship.
This article will cover seven main areas of responsibility as a tenant:
The landlord provides the lease agreement and there is usually a nominal lease fee which is charged to the tenant unless otherwise agreed.
Upon signature, the rental deposit plus the first month’s rent is usually paid over to the landlord or to the estate agency’s account if it is a managed lease. Although the deposit is requested at the discretion of the homeowner, for obvious reasons it is almost always required.
“In fact, the norm is a deposit equal to two months’ rent. This generally averts an age-old problem that has afflicted many landlords, and that is the notion or inclination that some tenants have had, whereby the last month’s rent is not paid over with the intention of setting off against the rental deposit,” says Barry Davies, Franchising Director at Chas Everitt International Property Group.
For the duration of the lease, each month in advance, your agreed rental amount becomes payable. This is normally on the first of the month and late payments may incur interest and penalties.
Depending on the terms discussed, the tenant may be liable for specific costs such as for water and electricity. This would thus be over and above the rental payment. The landlord would be obliged to furnish the tenant with the respective bills and the payment thereof would be as per details stipulated in the lease.
Rates, taxes and levies
These are usually dealt with completely by the landlord, although standard leases generally include the option to transfer some of these costs to the tenant – in the eventuality of unexpected municipal increases and so forth. In reality, these costs seldom crop up as ancillary expenses, unless specifically agreed that the tenant will be responsible for part of these costs.
General property maintenance
General maintenance of the property falls in the ambit of the landlord or landlord’s insurer if adequate cover is in place. So, provided the damage is not caused by an act of the tenant and the tenant has not agreed to cover such expenses, then repairs relating to paintwork, plumbing, ceilings, fittings, doors and windows will fall in this category.
There may be cases where a repair is urgent and if the landlord consents, the tenant may use his or her own provider to tend to the work, for example in the case of a running tap. The invoice may then be submitted to the landlord for reimbursement. Additional installations and fittings need to be first authorised by the property owner and in these situations the cost is borne by the tenant. If it is an irremovable improvement to the property, the tenant may request that the landlord consider coming in for half the expense or a portion thereof.
Lastly here, it is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure that the property is returned in the same state as at inception. Damages or losses established at the final inspection will warrant the landlord to deduct such costs from the rental deposit. Should the landlord not recover the amount for outstanding fees such as rental and repair expenses, the landlord may proceed with legal action.
It is the tenant’s responsibility to use the property for the consented purpose of stay for the agreed number of occupants. If this is violated in any way or if there is misrepresentation, the landlord may cancel the lease and proceed with recoveries as well as possible legal action.
However, in terms of contract law, the terms and conditions of the lease will come down to what was eventually presented and accepted when the agreement was concluded. Even though tenants do have recourse in the event that some of the terms may conflict with the law, for instance, it is certainly best to avoid this undesirable path.
Source: Chas Everitt