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25mnb's blog On the road to finding the perfect home to rent, would-be tenants often overlook a series of concerns they are supposed to address. This can be because their desperation in finding a new home got the better of them; they couldn’t contain their excitement, having found their dream home; or the rent was too cheap to resist. Of course, there are a lot of other reasons.

The question is: why treat those concerns with indifference when they can come back and pull you into an abyss of discomfort, disappointment, and frustration? Before you rent a home, you first need to understand the terms of your tenancy agreement. You need to sit down and ponder your options, look around, talk to the denizens of the neighbourhood, and ask plenty of questions.

You need to consider the following questions before you sign the tenancy agreement:

·         Do I need a letting agent?

The truth is that a letting agent understands the property business. They have been in the business for years and thus know all the pitfalls a tenant ought to avoid. The benefits of hiring one, no doubt, outweigh whatever commission you pay the agent.

A letting agent doesn’t only make the process of finding rental property quick and hassle free, but can get you your dream home for the right price also. With a rental agent, you may not need to worry about the questions posed in the rest of this post.

·         Am I allowed to decorate?

Most landlord-tenant agreements specify that the rental property be restored to its original condition at the end of the tenancy. Some landlords even insist that before a tenant can do a major decoration, the tenant must first acquire a written permission from him or her.

So you need to make sure from the onset that putting up artwork or wallpaper, driving nails into the walls, or repainting do not jeopardise your tenancy deposit.

·         What are the policies on guests and pets?

Some landlords put a limit on the monthly number of guests you can have. Also, while some may allow tenants to bring in pets, some others may restrict the types and sizes of pets that can live with their tenants. Therefore, be sure to ask around and also carefully go through the tenancy agreement for any clause on having guests and keeping pets.

·         Are utilities included in the rent

Who pays the electricity bills? Is the Wi-Fi free? What about gas and cable? Are all these bills included in the rent? These are questions your tenancy agreement should answer. If not, ask the landlord.

·         Who handles repairs?

Damage to a rental property isn’t always caused by the tenant. Should the drainage system, the doors, the roof et cetera develop a problem during your tenancy, who handles the rental property’s repairs? This is an important question to ask your landlord, especially if he or she lives offsite.

Is there an onsite property manager, perhaps a letting agent, who can easily effect repairs if the landlord is not around? How do tenants report an emergency? How long would it take the landlord to act on such an emergency?

These are questions you ought to ask so that you don’t end up incurring expenses simply because your landlord isn’t around to repair the drainage system or the doors.

·         Are you allowed to cancel your tenancy, and how?

What if you find a job in another city just three months into your tenancy? Can you terminate the agreement? If yes, is there a penalty? Are you supposed to inform your landlord in advance, and if so, how long?

Usually, tenancy termination by the tenant can translate to the tenant losing his or her tenancy deposit as well as any unused rental payment in the landlord’s possession. This is why it’s important to make sure the clause for termination is included in the tenancy agreement and that it favours you, if possible.