Must know things before signing a lease

Must know things before signing a lease

The search for a property can be a daunting and overwhelming task. This is mostly because there are so many options to choose from. You do a simple search for affordable flats to rent in Johannesburg and get a huge list. It can make you more than tempted to settle for the first flat you find. 

While that could cut the process a whole lot shorter, it’s always advisable to have options. For example, the Johannesburg Housing Company has many flats in numerous areas around Johannesburg, which offers you options to choose from. Options are important because ultimately, they present you with an opportunity to find a place that fits your needs. 

It’s always important to remember that you will be living in that flat for a long time, it could be six months or a year, what matters is making sure that you’re 100 percent satisfied with the terms and conditions stipulated in your lease agreement. 

So, before you sign on the dotted line, be sure that you understand your rights, your landlord’s right, the rules, the law, and what you’re responsible for. The lease agreement protects both you and your landlord. Should any problems arise in the future, the lease agreement will serve as evidence of an agreement. Once the lease has been signed, you can’t go back and change things until such a time where the new terms on the lease are negotiated. 

For this reason, we’ve put together a list of details you must know before signing:

Check the lease period

The last thing you need is to realise that your lease agreement is shorter or longer than verbally discussed. Make sure that the agreed period is reflected in the written agreement. Should you not agree with the length, talk to your potential landlord and have an updated lease written. When that is done, check again if the period is correct. 

Also, find out if you’ll have to actively renew your lease upon expiry date or if it automatically renews. This detail should also be in the lease agreement and if it isn’t, ask for it to be included.

View the flat

Before signing the lease agreement, view the flat you will be moving into to ensure that it is in accordance with the state you were told it was in. Even if you’ve viewed the flat before receiving the lease agreement, it doesn’t hurt to revisit to double-check on the condition until you’re satisfied with it. 

Pay attention to details of the flat, check for any damage, little things like broken taps or door handles or chipped windows. Additionally, find out what type of changes you can make to your new flat. If you would like to change the carpet or tiles or if you want to mount a television on the wall. 

Understand what you’re responsible for

Your lease should explain in detail what you are responsible for as a tenant. This includes everything such as parking, utility bills, pest control, repairs and maintenance fees. If it’s maintenance, you have to know which maintenance falls on you. For example, if the lease simply says maintenance and your pipe bursts, you’d need to know who is responsible for paying that. If your lease isn’t thoroughly detailed, ask for it to be detailed. 

You don’t want to be blindsided and caught in a difficult position where you would need to pay for something without having a budget for it.

Learn about the terms for having a roommate or sub-leasing

You’ll need to find out if it’s allowed to have a roommate if the flat is a double bed-room. If you are a primary leaseholder for the flat and you need a roommate to help you cover the costs. In the event where you need to move before the expiration date of your rental agreement, you would want to find a replacement for you but to do that; you have to know if your property allows sub-leasing or not. 

The terms of lease termination

At this point, you’ve read everything, and you’re feeling confident about the decision of signing the rental agreement, but before you do that, read the fine print. This is where you learn about the exact terms involved when you have to leave before your lease expires. Find out how much this will cost you and what the process involved is.