A rental agreement is a contract, usually written, between the owner of a property and a tenant who desires to have temporary possession of the property as distinguished from a lease which is more typically for a fixed term. As a minimum, the agreement identifies the parties, the property, the term of the rental, and the amount of rent for the term.
There is typically an implied, explicit, or written rental agreement or contract involved to specify the terms of the rental, which are regulated and managed under Contract Law.
The parties involved in the contract, the landlord and the tenant are identified in the contract. A housing lease may specify whether the tenant is living alone, with family, children, roommate, visitors. A rental may delineate the rights and obligations of each of these. This also applies to whether or not pets may be kept by the tenant. On the other hand, the tenant may also have specific rights against intrusions by the landlord or other tenants, except under emergency circumstances. The term of the rental may be for a night (e.g., a hotel room), weeks, months, or years. There may be statutory provisions requiring registration of any rental that could extend for more than a specified number of years (e.g., seven) in order to be enforceable against a new landlord.
A typical rental is either annual or month-to-month, and the amount of rent may be different for long-term renters (because of lower turnover costs). If a tenant stays beyond the end of a rental for a term of years (one or more), then the parties may agree that the lease will be automatically renewed, or it may simply convert to a tenancy at will (month-to-month) at the pro-rated monthly cost of the previous annual lease. If a tenant at will is given notice to quit the premises, and refuses to do so, the landlord then begins eviction proceedings. In many places it is completely illegal to change locks on doors, or remove personal belongings, let alone forcibly eject a person, without a court order of eviction. There may be strict rules of procedure, and stiff penalties (triple damages, plus attorneys’ fees) for violations.
Here are a few tips, wherein a tenant before signing and entering into a rental agreement, has bear in mind and then go ahead.
Background check of the owner: It is essential for one to know the track-record of the licensor and get an No Objection Certificate from the society. One must check, if there is any unauthorised construction done in the house or flat; also, check if there is any litigation pertaining to the property due to which you may land into trouble. It is also necessary to check if the premise has the occupation certificate and regular water supply. Therefore one has to be sure that the document of Leave and License is stamped and registered.
First-hand experience of the site: Once the landlord has agreed to let the apartment on rent, the tenant must make sure to inspect any pre-existing damage before signing a rental agreement. If there is anything that the landlord has not agreed to fix from the first visit inspection such as tainted carpeting, broken blinds or missing tiles, the tenant must make sure this damage is documented in the agreement as pre-existing. By documenting such damage, a tenant is protected from impending charges to your security deposit.
Make a concrete agreement: Some rentals are inclusive of utilities like cable connection and parking within the monthly rental and some aren’t. This can have an effect on the monthly budget and make an otherwise affordable apartment, not so affordable. Most rent agreements are based on a parallel template, but words can vary between two contracts. Non-specific agreements can imply trouble and may leave out special requirements like extensions, move-in and move-out dates, and damage limits. A tenant has to always make sure that the agreement unambiguously declares the address of the property, the name of the landlord, contact information for the landlord and maintenance persons, deposit and rent total and expected utilities.
Terms and conditions implied: A tenant has to ensure the appropriate documentation is registered. Review the agreement thoroughly to make sure that it includes a lock-in period, release clause and is clear by way of any annual increments to the rent. tenant should also understand any additional charges that could be their responsibility during the rental period. A tenant should also ensure that they take the metre reading of the electric and gas metre on the date of possession; charges to be levied in case of repair or damage and clarity on timeline of payments and other monetary exchanges.
Understand local and state laws: A tenant has to essentially look out for illegal clauses and keep a track of late payments and penalties. Laws vary from state to state; what may be legal in one state may not be in another. Two very important documents that should be read completely before renting are: the rental agreement and the state’s rental right laws.
Include a severability clause: A severability clause is the best bet in a rental agreement. This part protects a tenant by keeping the contract intact, even if one part turns out to be unlawful or unenforceable.
Checklist on pet provisions: Even if advertisements state that some pets are allowed, double check the same with the owner. One should know that landlords are allowed to charge extra for pets. The fees however, may be negotiable.
There are two fundamental things that should always be kept in mind, rent can’t go up until the contract expires, and you can’t be evicted without breaching the contract.