Students should be wary of the papers they sign and that is why if you are one and are about to sign a rental agreement for your new flat or house, you should learn to read through the whole thing, look for fine print and check every single dash and comma and what it may pertain. Some landlord will abuse more naive students and so you need to be smart so that you don’t end up in a dump or facing broken furniture that nobody is supposed to change. Here is what you need to check.
1. The length and type of the contract.
Always know if there is a set period that you have the place available for. The standard contract is for 12 months, but your landlord might have put or typo’d another number. You also need to know whether the contract is a joint tenancy agreement, which means that if you live with someone, they are legally equally responsible as yourself for any damages during the tenancy. This contract is signed by all parties, but you should preferably sign an individual agreement so that you avoid being legally responsible for anything that your flat mate does if he or she decides to leave.
2. The deposit protection scheme.
In case you didn’t know, you are required to make a deposit with the size of a month’s rent that will be used in case of any lasting damages after your lease ends. If everything is well with the place, you get the full deposit refunded once you leave. But many landlords do their best to keep the deposit, like omit the deposit agreement from the agreement clauses so you need to check if the agreement states that you will be depositing money and that you are entitled to them once you leave if all the conditions are met.
3. The retainer deal.
You may want to spend the summer months back home or at a summer resort, or work abroad and leave the rented property empty. Usually landlords offer a retainer sum which is lower than the rent and you pay to keep him or her from renting it out to other people while you are gone. Check if the agreement has such a clause.
4. The inventory.
The inventory is a list of all the items accounted for in the flat or house you are moving into, and the state they are in. They do not include the items you bring in, only those that belong to the landlord. You are responsible for keeping them the same amount and the same state as you have first seen them, and every damage to them will be paid for with your deposit. Just make sure they are all accounted for and that there aren’t any extra items for landlords who like running scams.
5. The agency fee.
If you are using a letting agent to find the flat or house, you can expect a commission fee that should usually be equal to 50-75 percent of a month’s rent. Always check that fee in case the agency is trying to rob you of your money with an absurd percentage which you should definitely not pay.
6. All the clauses.
Be thorough and read every single clause the contract offers. Most are common and standard, but there just might be something strange that could pop up and you need to be aware of it and prevent yourself from signing an agreement with an absurd clause. Also, if there is a clause that you do not agree with, feel free to negotiate it with your would-be landlord.
With this you should be ready to take on any agreement that is handed to you and you can expertly go through it and see if it is worth signing or not. Just whatever you do, never skim through a legal agreement and then sign it. Always know what you are putting your signature on.