My finances, my projects, my life
October 28, 2020

Read the lease carefully before you sign it!

  Compiled by myLIFE team myHOME September 4, 2017 1452

Just the lease to sign before you get the keys to your rented home? Cool! Hold on for a moment – the lease is actually a contract that sets out the terms and conditions under which you will rent your home. It is binding upon both the landlord and the tenant. The form and content of this commitment can vary depending on the circumstances. Once you have signed it, you are committed! Do not do this lightly.

The lease sets out the principal rental terms and conditions. Although it can be agreed verbally and for a term presumed to be indefinite, it is always preferable to set it down in writing in as much detail as possible and to have it signed by all the parties concerned. Here are the key provisions that a lease usually contains.

Term of the tenancy

This is set freely between the parties and is tacitly renewed at the end of the tenancy. If the landlord or the tenant does not wish to extend the tenancy or wishes to terminate it early, he must expressly inform all the parties to the lease in accordance with the notice period stipulated in the lease.

The rent

The landlord is free to set the rent for his property. However, the annual amount of the rent cannot exceed 5% of the capital that the landlord has invested in the property (cost of land and construction plus any renovation and conversions). This limit does not apply to social and luxury housing as defined by law.

The rent is expressly mentioned in the lease and can only be revised every two years. It is usually paid monthly.

Charges

In addition to the rent, the landlord may require the tenant to pay various charges. These are payable on a flat-rate basis or in instalments in advance, which are adjusted on the basis of the annual statement of charges. This statement must be sent to the tenant together with copies of receipts for the expenses disbursed by the landlord.

The charges usually cover energy consumption, maintenance and minor repairs of common areas and taxes relating to the use of the property (refuse collection, sewage, etc.). However, the land tax and all taxes relating to the property are payable by the landlord.

Since 1 July 2012, landlords have been required to provide any new tenant in their properties with a certified copy of this certificate.

Energy performance certificate

Since 1 July 2012, landlords have been required to provide any new tenant in their properties with a certified copy of this certificate.

Deposit

When you rent a home, the landlord almost always asks for a rent guarantee or “deposit” to cover your obligations under the lease (rent payments, charges or damage to the property, if any). The deposit may be as much as three months’ rent, and can only be requested once the landlord has taken a mandatory written inventory in the presence of the tenant before handing over the keys.

If, in the absence of an inventory, the tenant signs this clause, he cannot dispute the damage recorded on vacating the premises and is required to pay for it by law.

Inventory

This document, which is only mandatory if the landlord has demanded a deposit (which is almost always the case), is highly recommended as it can be used to resolve any disputes when the tenant vacates the premises. It must be signed and dated by all the parties concerned. In the absence of such a document the law considers that:

  • the tenant has taken possession of the property in a condition fit for renting (unless he can prove otherwise) and must be able to return it in such condition;
  • the landlord cannot use the deposit to cover damage that may be caused to his property during the tenancy.

NB: leases often included a clause stipulating that the tenant confirms having taken over the premises in good condition. If, in the absence of an inventory, the tenant signs this clause, he cannot dispute the damage recorded on vacating the premises and is required to pay for it by law.

 Other provisions

The lease may also contain various additional clauses such as:

  • alterations that may be authorised during the tenancy period;
  • restrictions (prohibitions on sub-letting, pets, etc.);
  • bylaws relating to the communal aspects of a co-owned property (building or house containing multiple residences);
  • etc.

Now that you know what you’re signing, you can relax and go ahead!