Now that you have decided your residence, it is the time to have the final word. Remember that the rent, no matter what they say, is always negotiable. So, you can always bargain or haggle with the stated amount. The lease or contract is the concluding stage of the agreement which is crucial and involves a series of steps.
Securing the property
In the first step, you need to reserve your residence by paying a deposit amount. As these properties tend to get booked very fast, you need to secure it by providing this money to the prospective landlord. It is a sort of commitment between the two parties for the future final deal. The holding deposit is not refundable. After the transaction if you change your mind, then you lose your money completely. Even after securing the apartment, you should not delay the agreement. Get the accommodation agreement done as quickly as possible even if you have to do it through the post.
To make it legally verified in the respective country, the rental contract is signed by the two parties. The contract includes all the details including the rights and the obligations of the tenant as well as the landlord. Formally, it is known as a lease in USA and Tenancy in UK. The tenure of the lease varies from six months to three years. But most of the times, the parties agree on a one-year contract. The essential aspects of every rental lease are:
Security Deposit Amount
It is the refundable deposit money that the students need to pay during the agreement. When the international student moves out of the residence, they get back the full amount. But if the student is responsible for any form of damage or violation of contract, the landlord reserves the right to deduct the equivalent amount of compensation as decided by the parties or the court.
Rents and Utilities
Rent is the amount payable to the landlord by the student every month. The contract will include all the details about the rent and utilities. As the rent increases every financial year, it is important to have a separate clause over it. Some of the landlords charge gross rent from the students which include the prices of other facilities like electricity, water, gas and garbage disposal along with the basic rent. It is advised by several legal advisors that the transaction should be completed in cheques (check in USA).
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Most leases are for one-year term. Both the parties on a mutual agreement can extend the contract in future. As they can extend the contract, any party can terminate the lease too. If any side so decides, a 30-day to 60-day notice (varies from country to country) must be provided to the other party. But to safeguard the interest of the students, the landlords do not have the authority to discontinue the contract without any valid reason.
Rules and Obligations
After the lease becomes effective, the students need to follow some general and special rules. The obligations depend on the residential country and the city as well. Rather than stating them as rules, they are a set of guidelines which help you to reside and co-exist peacefully and harmoniously. It includes the directives for moral conduct, having pets, directives for sharing the common facilities etc.
When the student opts for a furnished flat or an apartment, a separate clause is inserted in the contract paper. It includes the details of the condition and the state of the furniture, bed, utensils and others. It is the mandatory obligation of the student to leave all those furnishings in the same condition without any damage or distortion. It is regarded as the most complicated part of the contract and hence, should be dealt carefully. If you do not feel confident yourself, then take the assistance of some seniors or acquaintances to avoid any mishap.
All the international students visit their homes during the summer vacation and the winter holidays. During this time, the students need to pay a specific amount (generally half of the monthly rent) to hold the property in their name. It is known as retainer which is an important clause in every contract. The landlord receives this non-refundable payment as the student retains the property in her/ his name. These are the essential features of every rental contract. It can cover other aspects as well following the legal purview of the country, state and the specific university or college. As you get ready to sign the legal document, make sure that you know the answers of the following checklist
Checklist before you sign the agreement
Type of Contract
There are generally four types of contract, namely short hold (for 6 months to one year duration), long hold (more than one year duration), joint (when a group will live together) and individual (single person). Make sure that you sign the right form of the document.
Read the contract thoroughly
Do not sign the lease contract without reading it. Read the legal document with complete attention and check these key points:
1. Effectiveness of the contract (start date and end date)
2. Make sure that you name is spelt correctly and includes the name of the landlord as well
3. Check whether the rental figures are accurate
4. All your obligations are mentioned without any ambiguity. If you find any mistake, get it rectified before you sign it.
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Security Deposit Protection
Check the clauses related to refund of the security deposit. Most of the students overlook it but it is very important. It is the compulsory duty of the landlord to reimburse the deposit within 30 days after leaving the residence.
Sometimes, the contracts require a guarantor from the student’s side. It may be your parents, friends, acquaintances and even your lawyer. The guarantor will be the person who can pay the rent if for some reason you fail to make the payments. But for all the international students, it is not mandatory to have a guarantor.
If you got the contact of your prospective landlord from any certified agency, the respective agency is entitled for a pre-determined fee. Make sure that the payable amount to them is incorporated in the contract. The amount should be mutually compliant.
Check that the list of inventories is correct and completely accurate. Both the parties should agree to the conditions of the house and other useful utilities. These days, it has become easier as you can take photographs which will be a proof of authenticity for future. In case you face any issue or dispute in the future, you can take the assistance of the city tenant union or the customer advocates. They can provide you legal help and the necessary guidance in these undesirable circumstances.