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Rent Agreements: Some ins and outs

This piece is meant for those responsible people amongst us and not those seeking a way on how to cheat one party or another. Aware that some tenants are vulnerable, and that some landlords tend to take advantage of, equally however, some landlords are sometimes naive and find unscrupulous tenants on the prowl for some free lunch. So, here, we intend to address both sides of the lease agreement – both the landlord and the tenant therefore – by clarifying their respective rights and obligations in their relationship with one another.

  1. First and foremost, both parties need to ensure that the lease contract is drawn up by a legal professional. Tenants are strongly advised to consult a legal professional, making sure that all the terms are explained well to them. It is pointless seeking advice after the signature.

  2. The agreement must then be registered with the housing authority within 10 days of signature. If the landlord fails to do this, the tenant can take it upon himself to do the task. If the agreement is not registered neither tenant nor landlord can say that they have a lease agreement. It simply does not exist.

  3. Ideally, the contract should be a model law contract. If it is not, it is important to attach the required Declaration Form stating so. If the landlord wants to depart from the law, he needs to fill out and sign this declaration. He may have entirely and perfectly genuine reasons for doing this but as a tenant you need to understand why.

  4. Check whether the lease renews automatically or not, depending on what was agreed between you. In the event of an automatic renewal ensure that any increase in rent does not exceed 5% of the original lease rent. Beware, however, as this would apply only in cases of renewals, not in the event of new contracts.

  5. The amount that is being paid in rent should be the same amount declared on the contract. Some landlords would sometimes prefer to under-declare the amount to make a saving on tax, but this is not advisable since the landlord would, then, not be able to claim against the tenant who decides to only pay the amount shown on the contract, rather than the one that was agreed upon.

  6. Upon commencement of the lease, the tenant has possession of the leased property, so from that moment onwards the property, or at least its enjoyment, belongs, in all but name, to the tenant. So, no one, not even the landlord, can enter the property unless with the express consent of the tenant, except in the event of an emergency.

  7. Similarly, a tenant cannot be locked out of his leased property for any reason whatsoever, and likewise the tenant cannot just up and change the locks on the property leased to him – either one of these incidents gives rise to a criminal action by the Police against the offender. An offence, mind, which carries a fine of up to €4,000 and up to 3 month’s imprisonment

  8. Since everyone is responsible for the harm they cause to others, a tenant is responsible for all breakages, damages, bills for utilities and general state of cleanliness of the property leased to him. Whilst the security deposit cannot be used for to pay off arrears in rent, there is one exceptional case where it can be used by the landlord to make good for any unpaid bills or damage caused by the tenant.

  9. The parties to the lease need to respect the terms of the contract, or the law, if they want to terminate it earlier than what was agreed upon. The landlord needs to inform his tenant 3