by B. Singer
What you should not miss-out from a rental agreement
Absolutely under no-circumstances, should you ever forget to pen this 'mother of all' tenancy clause in!
Agreements are an essential part of any selling/buying or letting out/renting a property. I'm sure you have seen many examples but a thorough reading of the agreement? It does not matter if you are copying the agreement off the internet, or drafted by a legal professional, your part to play is to read it thoroughly.
Now, an agreement is not only about guarding your rights, but also about being fair with the other party, and not to have unnecessary arguments later on. Even with an agreement in place an error can cause misunderstanding, arguments and wasted time, not to mention money that may be spent correcting the error.
Recently I came across a tenancy agreement supposedly drafted by one top Malaysian property agency. The document
contained some fanciful English words of the law-kind. Meanwhile, the agency's name itself is an equally impressive English name picked smack from around the region of Mayfair, City of Westminster, London!
I must say, it is probably one of the most thorough contract document I have come across, they'd addressed nearly every aspect of life including 'To allow quiet enjoyment'... I'm guessing of 'the said property the tenant had paid the rent for'.
Anyway, for once, I became the daft and clueless one, on the other side of some other person's hard-work ( the Tenancy agreement). To cut a long story short, rodents and thievery matters were addressed, and finally I arrive at 'Termination before expiry of the Term of Tenancy'. Now, this section had a whole lot of 'demised', 'terminates/terminated', 'rate of interest' and some more big words. Then, nonchalantly came the clause for notice of contract termination, that either party can initiate it, that is notice of two months to either decide to leave the premises or be asked to leave. It is all done and dusted in one single paragraph.
Now, I'm assuming that this is, the one most important point, that should be dealt with thoroughly. So, it says should I decide to sell the house and requires the tenant to leave? Not to worry, it adds that I'm required to tell the new purchasers that, currently, there are tenants in the property until such and such date and that he need to temporarily hang on to the sledgehammers, hacksaws and the cement mixer that he's preparing to use to cement the entire front lawn of God's green grass and making it into one big cemented parking lot instead!
...BUT, wait, wait again a sec, it does not mentions anywhere if the tenant in a moment of panic, considering he and his family are about to be made homeless by my tyrant act of selling the property, finds a new property he can move in right now. So, let's say, the tenant wishes to move out of my property in the middle of the month?
The agreement is completely silent of this scenario! Do I now refund the deposit for half a month since he's leaving in the mid-of month, or does the tenant pays up half a month rent, or must he stay a full month before vacating my property?
So, my tenant headed for the nearest solicitor (I would have done the same) and the solicitor advised my tenant that since its not stated in the tenancy agreement, he can move out any time, and that I am to return his deposit nevertheless!
After numerous text messages and meeting the tenant personally, finally the tenant decides to leave at the end of the month and fulfilling the 2 months notice I had given him. Now, isn't this is why Agreement's are made in the first place. I mean it blatantly says 'AGREEMENT'... quite blatantly, can't be anymore blatant than that, on the front page. What else could this document be if its not solving this simple, but utmost of importance matter? Priorities of, if a rodent is sharing the premises or if a nail has been driven into the wall as the agreement has taken pains to point out is the least likely of my worries! So, what was missing, and is definitely required is a statement that outlines clearly the monthly rental conditions, and might be written like this:
"Rental is calculated on a monthly basis, and therefore no refunds to be given if tenants moves out before the expiry of a full month."
This statement should cover either parties actions, regardless of the causing factor!
So, finally after pages of ramblings, I would stress again that YOU read the agreement thoroughly and re-read again and get another person to read too before you put pen and ink to paper accepting responsibility for some things that you know not of. Trust me, should circumstances change, it will save you from a whole lot of headaches in the future.
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