Whether you are renting residential property for the first time or are a tenant, it helps to know certain rules that apply to you. You are expected to adhere to the guidelines set by your landlord, some of which could be mandated by the state, county, or locality you rent in. You may browse the net or check with your friends and colleagues as regards the tenancy laws of the state you reside in. You may even consult an attorney for the same. The attorney will help you out with understanding the tenancy laws of the land.
By and large, some of the most common tenancy rules applicable to renters are
Timely payment of rentals
This is the most crucial part of the rental agreement. Make it a point to pay your monthly rent by the date stated in the rental agreement. It is advisable to pay by check or money order so that you have a record of the same. Get a signed receipt for your rent. If, for any reason, you are unable to pay by the stipulated date, pay within the grace period. If you exceed the grace period, you may be charged a penalty. This late payment charge can be a fixed percentage of the rent or a flat amount. In some cases, you may be evicted too.
Maintenance of external spaces
The upkeep of spaces such as the lawn, terrace, or patio could be your responsibility. Always have it stated in the rental agreement as to who should take care of these spaces.
Penalty towards lease-breaking
In the event of you breaking the lease/rent, you are liable to continue paying the landlord until he finds the next tenant. Also, you could be responsible for re-releasing fees. This typically includes a broker’s fee, credit checks for potential clients, and advertisements.
No Entitlement to Assets in the Dwelling
When you move into a rented place, you are not entitled to all the assets/objects of the property. Your agreement will state that. Accordingly, when you move out, you should not take along any of the assets with you.
Deductions from deposit
The landlord will make deductions from your deposit with him/her if the property is damaged. This will be any damage other than normal wear and tear. Be prepared to bear the costs if you are unaware of this clause in your rental agreement.
Sub-letting your rented unit
In most cases, you as a tenant are forbidden from sub-letting your rented unit to travelers or other tenants. Should you ever sub-let, it translates into violation of your rental agreement. This is also equivalent to breaking the laws of the land. As a consequence of this, your landlord may even evict you. If at all you want to sub-let, study the local laws thoroughly. Local laws do not flatly prohibit short-term rentals. They impose restrictions on them instead. Else, discuss this with your landlord upfront. If he/she agrees to it, you may have to share the proceeds from sub-letting with him/her. He may allow you to rent out only occasionally or rent out only a part of the unit. Any agreement with your landlord should be in writing. If you don’t have one, you will need a renter’s insurance with substantial coverage. Your landlord may want to increase his coverage due to frequent visits of guests to his property. In this case, you have to chip in to pay the costs partly or wholly.
This is not a must-have pre-requisite, though some landlords may require you to have renter’s insurance. It is good to have a renter’s insurance as the deposit does not cover any damage arising from theft, fire, or flood. Neither will the landlord’s insurance cover the damage to your belongings.
As a tenant, you also have the responsibility of maintaining the utmost cleanliness of the property that you rent. This includes rules about garbage removal. Make it a point to follow the rules, as stated in the agreement by your landlord. Please take out the garbage and place it from where it is taken away. Follow the instructions given for recycling or composting of garbage.
If your landlord has specified the type of pets allowed or not allowed, do oblige. Also, if the landlord has laid down certain guidelines for pet care, then under no circumstances should you overrule them.
Guidelines as regards the use of appliances and fixtures
Use the appliances of the rented property with utmost care. Do not use any fixture the wrong way. Remember, you don’t own the property. Failing to comply with the guidelines will result in you bearing the cost of the repairs.
Serving a notice period
You are required to give notice to your landlord if you plan to move out of the rented place. Most landlords prefer a notice period of 30 days. The notice period may, however, differ from person to person.
Before moving out of the rented premises, you must restore the dwelling in the condition it was before occupying it. This may require you to add a coat of paint to the walls or getting the rugs cleaned and the wooden floors repaired professionally.
- You have to inform the landlord about a repair that is needed. Accordingly, you have to give him/her access to the property to make repairs and collect rent. Keep communication lines open with your landlord.
- Use the rented premises for residence only. Do not conduct any business of any kind from the unit.
- Do not hang or attach any advertisement or sign in or around the premises.
- You must respect the rights of other tenants and occupants of the premises your unit is housed in. In no way should you cause inconvenience to them. Do not crowd the stairs, porches, or entrances. Do not clutter these spaces, either.
- Avoid playing blaring music or talking in raised voices in rented premises. Do not use profane or obscene language on the premises.
- Do not store any explosive, combustible, or hazardous substance/object in the premises.
- Do not make any changes to the electrical wiring or overuse the utility. Do not let any installation run exposed.
- Do not be involved in any illegal drug activity.
- Do not consume alcohol in the front porches or yard.
- Be polite and respect the people who work for your landlord.
- Most importantly, FOLLOW the rules stated in the rental agreement.
Some Tips on Rules Applying to Renters
- Be ready with your paperwork. Bring a duly-filled application, references from employers, colleagues, and landlords, and a current copy of credit report.
- Before signing on the dotted line, review the conditions of tenancy.
- ALWAYS have all correspondence written. Maintain copies and follow-up on verbal agreements with a letter.
- Specify the amount of time your landlord needs to inform you before visiting the property.
- It is your right to live in a neat, well-maintained property. Demand it from the owner if anything needs repairs.
- Maintain excellent communication with your landlord
- Opt for a renter’s insurance to get coverage for theft or damage.
- Make sure your rental agreement specifies the use and refund of security deposits. Also, what allowable deductions are allowed.
- When you shift into your new rental, assess the existing damage in the presence of the landlord.
- Find out if your premises and surroundings are safe. If they aren’t checked with your landlord, what he can do about it.