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Renters; What To Look Out For in A Rental Agreement

Finding an affordable property that meets your home goals to rent/lease can be a real nightmare. Hence, when you are signing a rental agreement, especially for the first time, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and get lost in the dry legal mumbo jumbo of the whole process.

With the nation in an economic downturn, renting has never been so popular. That means more and more tenants are open to attack and are liable to walk blindly into tenancy agreements that won’t always serve their best interest. Hence, before you sign on that dotted line and commit to a rental agreement, you need to fully understand just what you’re agreeing to and the expectations and rules that go with your new apartment. Also, ensure you are on the lookout for some of these things below in your rental agreement;


1. Rental span and rent increase

It is important to know when your rent agreement starts and ends. Make sure the dates are clearly stated in the rental agreement. Also, be sure to find out what happens when your rent expires. If the rent can be extended, you would need to know for how long and whether or not rent increases will take effect.

2. Rent payments and late fees

Your rental agreement should specify the amount of rent to be paid, when it is due, and how it’s to be paid, such as by mail to your office. To avoid confusion and disputes, look out for details such as; acceptable payment methods (e.g personal check only)

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Many agreements include a “grace period” during which rent payments can be made after the deadline without being late. While some agreements state that a lateness fee would be charged if you are yet to pay your rent after the due date. Ensure you look out for these. Also, make sure you know what the late fee is ahead of time so that you would be prepared to cover the cost if you are late on a payment.

 3. Renovations

If you have it in mind to renovate the place, be sure to look out for what your rental agreement says about renovations. Even if the landlord says you are free to renovate the place, make sure you get it in writing just in case it backfires. You don’t want to end up having to bear the financial burden of restoring the place to its original state.

ALSO READ: The Legal Rights of the Lagos Tenant

4. Maintenance and repairs

Both the landlord and the tenant have responsibilities to maintain the premises, therefore, the obligations of both parties should be clearly spelled out. For example, tenants usually have a responsibility to keep the premises clean and are responsible for any damage caused by neglect or abuse while the landlords  have a duty to maintain a livable property and are responsible for necessary repairs not caused by the tenant (such as repairing a leaky roof). All maintenance, repairs, costs; who pays for what? should be clearly stated in the rental agreement.

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 5. Rent and utilities

There may be some utilities to be provided as part of your rent. It is then left for you to read the rental agreement and find out what utilities would be provided and for how much. For example, landlords may include a security fee as part of the total rent and they would still expect the tenant to pay for the same security on a monthly basis . Hence, familiarize yourself with what has been paid for as well as your outstanding payments.

6. What will make the landlord kick you out?

The rental agreement should have the landlord’s do’s and dont’s, so it is important you read through the rental agreement to find out what makes the landlord happy and what could possibly make him evict you from his building. What type of things will get you kicked out of your apartment? You don’t want to throw one too many parties and wake up with an eviction notice the next morning. Your rental agreement should specify what justifies eviction, such as not paying rent or causing too much noise. Also, the rental agreement should specify how many days’ notice the landlord must give you to pay the rent before he can evict you.

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ALSO READ: Lagos Renters Beware!

 7. There should be no informality

There have been many instances where the landlord would promise to give you the receipt for your rent payment later, without any agreement which could backfire later.  Under no circumstance, should you ever agree to such promise! Always get a receipt after payment. It is clearly stated under the Law that;

1. all landlords of premises shall upon payment of rent by the tenants, be obliged to issue a rent payment receipt to their tenants in respect of such payments.

2. the receipt shall state the;

(a) Date of which rent was received;

(b) Name of the landlord and the tenant;

(c) Location of premises in respect of which the rent is paid

(d) Amount of rent paid; and

(e) Period to which the payment relates.

Above all, after signing the lease, make sure you have a copy. Try to re-read the lease periodically so that you remain familiar with all of the terms in the rental agreement.

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