Being a tenant is very common way of living, especially if you are staying somewhere for a relatively short period, like few months even a few years. Some people prefer to lease apartment as a way of living, since it gives them flexibility. Moving from one leased apartment to another is much easier than selling and buying the apartment or house every few years.
Despite the flexibility of tenant lifestyle, some things should be taken care about. There are many landmines that you could step on, unless you take precaution measures. Following guides are not related to search and selection of lease offers, but are related on defining the relationship with landlord.
Contract creation is the basic element of the establishment of lessor - lessee relationship. The contract should define basic rights and obligation of both parties. Important aspect of contract is deposit and your return claim rights. You could stay without your deposit in case that return conditions are not defined in details. Taxation is another important thing. Who is paying tax? Do you contract the full lease sum, or you contract one part, while you give the other part of the money on the hand. No contract option may be possible in some cases, but usually lessors are insisting on contract
Item list & photos
Contract should be accompanied with item list and photos of apartment interior. Apartments are usually used and they may have some damages. Small damages, like cracked tiles or scratched wood may seem as minor when you move in. But they may grow big in the eyes of the landlord when you move out, which could reflect on deduction from your deposit. The best way is to take photos of all rooms, with the focus on damages found at the moment of moving in. Photos or images on CD should be attached to the contract.
The contract duration should have some weight on contract conditions. Longer term contracts should definitively have discount on rent fee. Therefore, first negotiate price for the shorter period. Once you established price for short period ask about long period discount. Ask for discount even if the ad or agent says that the price is predetermined, because nothing is determined beyond possibility of change.
Establish bills management from very beginning. First step is to check balance on every utility or service the moment you move in and put it in contract. Otherwise you may be responsible for debts occurred before your time. Second step is regular payment of bills. Third step is bills archiving by taking a folder and dedicating separate plastic sheets for bills of particular utility or service. This way you will have archive that can cover a years and you will avoid situations of loosing bills and double claims by landlord.
Complain and document every complaint ( photos, evidence )
You are client, while your landlord is your service. Therefore be demanding and make requests once you move in. That can be small thing, even a complaint about a noise from neighbors. Make evidence of problems, like photo of leaking pipe. Keep landlord’s attention on you and make him aware of the problems you may have, because you pay for the service. If you do not complain to landlord, than he/she could complaint later about you, because he/she could think that you are responsible for leaking pipe, once you move out. Then your deposit becomes questionable.
Exit Handover protocol
When you decide to leave the apartment, move out your personal things and clean the place. Make the photos and compare them with the photos made when you moved in. This is important in order to prevent situations where you may be blamed for some damage. Make sure that landlord is present when you move out. Request the document where he/she states that you are clean. Otherwise the damage occurred after you left ( like flood ) may be blamed on you in case that you leave without official handover.
These are basic things that should be respected when you live in leased apartment. If you follow them you will avoid unnecessary problems with landlord.