Signing a rental lease guide

About to Sign a Rental Lease?

There comes a time in everybody’s life when they need to go it alone. Whether that is leaving the family home or starting over, a lot of people choose to go into rented accommodation to start off with. Building a new home around you takes a while, but that’s a long way into the future. Firstly, you need to find a place and before that you need to sign a rental lease.

Below is a list of helpful hints and tips offering guidance for prospective tenants who are doing this all for the first time in their lives. Because there are several things to think about, we’ve chosen the most important and the most useful information for our list which covers some of the questions we hear regularly.

Read the lease before signing

You may be surprised to discover that only a quarter of the people who sign rental agreements actually bother to read any of it at all before they put pen to paper and sign. Prospective tenants must remember that the lease is a legally binding contractual agreement between themselves and the landlord. If you do not read it all, and this includes the small print, you should not sign it. Ensure you have read every page and every word, digested it and agree to its contents before signing it.

Make sure the details are correct

You should know what is written within the pages of the lease. All your details should be correct and those of anyone else planning to live with you in the property. This includes children, roommates, and members of your family.

Are pets included on the lease?

Many landlords will not accept pets living in their property, so this is something that needs to be addressed before the agreement is signed. It is important to discuss the possibility of having a pet with the landlord even if you do not have the pet when you first move in. There are many issues with having pets that will need to be included on the lease. Some of these issues are:

  • The cleanliness of the pet and how clean you keep the areas of the property the pet uses.
  • If there is a litter tray for the pet, it will need to be cleaned out regularly and any areas around the tray will also need to be regularly cleaned. The litter itself can often be kicked from the tray onto the floor beneath and if that causes damage by scratches or even walked into carpet, this will need to be addressed.
  • Any soiling outside of the litter tray requires urgent removal and cleaning.
    if the pet contracts fleas then you will need to rid the animal of them and also the property.
  • Inspections will highlight these issues if that do occur and that may cause issues with the lease and the landlord.
  • Should the pet be noisy – perhaps a dog barking all day or a parrot that may continually call – it will be necessary to address this as it could cause a problem with your neighbours and be classed as anti-social behaviour.

It is worth noting that smoking comes with very strict laws and guidelines when renting properties. All landlords will cover this in their leases.

What if I want to sublet?

If your idea is to rent the property but you want to sublet a room within the property, then you have to discuss this with the landlord before the lease is signed. Bear in mind that having a lodger and subletting a room are two quite different things. Lodgers rent a room from you and, as their landlord, you are entitled to have access into their space in order for cleaning to take place. Someone subletting a room has access to all the property and you will have to ask permission to enter their private area. That said, before any subletting or lodging takes place, discuss this with your landlord.

What are termination fees?

Should your landlord require you to leave before the agreed tenancy has ended, you may be expected to pay termination fees. The amount will depend on your landlord. Landlords are required to send a tenant a ‘Notice of Intent’ so you get at least two months’ notice before you have to vacate the property.

Reasons for termination include:

  • late or no payment of rent
  • violation of clauses in the lease including upkeep of cleanliness
  • violation of responsibilities imposed by law.

Make sure you are the perfect tenant to avoid being asked to leave. More information can be found at www.gov.uk.

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