staticshin

The importance of a rent contract

Disputes between landlords and tenants are,unfortunately,quite common. They can arise due to innumerable reasons. The tenant may not agree to an increase in rent after a certain period. The landlord may interfere with the basic amenities or refuse repairs. You could go on forever and never run out of reasons that may lead to a dispute. Most of the disputes however can be avoided easily by having rent contract in place. So what's a contract?

A contract is an agreement enforceable by the law.

A rent contract is an express agreement that defines how the tenancy is to be carried out. The duration of the rent contract is same as the period of tenancy. As a tenant you lay down your expectations from the landlord and as a landlord you lay down the mode of conduct by the tenant. A rent contract generally contains the following clauses:-

The rent agreed

This is kind of obvious but it will save you as a tenant or as a landlord many headaches. You put in writing the rent that is agreed upon by both the parties at the time of negotiation.

The duration of tenancy

Many times the landlord may insist (to protect himself) upon the duration of the tenancy. This means you have got fix a time period that is agreeable to both of you after which the contract has to be renewed in order for the tenancy to continue. Suppose you fix in a period, of say 11 months, as the maximum time for which the contract will remain valid. You will be the tenant of your landlord for 11 months after which both you and your landlord will have to take a decision whether to continue to tenancy or to terminate it.

The rate of increase in rent

At what rate the rent of the property will be increased? This can be governed by many factors including the fluctuations in tax the local authorities levy, the change in prices of the property, an increase in the cost of living etc. If the primary source of the income of your landlord is the rent from his property it is wise to negotiate a rate at which the rent will be increased. So that during the period of your tenancy you have no problems with the rent that you pay.

Who bears the cost of repairs?

As you are living in the premises it is quite natural that from everyday use the facilities provided to you may wear out. A socket on the wall may break. The water pipes may start to leak. Or a crack may manifest in the wall. So it is always a good practice to have in writing who bears the cost of repairing the facilities.

Personally I feel it is a good deal for both the parties if the small repairs like pipe leaks and broken sockets be repaired at the cost of the tenant where as the major repairment and maintenance costs like fresh paint or cracked walls be borne by the landlord.

The purpose for which the property is being lent

Will you be using the property for residential purposes or for commercial purposes? While this may seem like a small issue many landlords will tell you anecdotes of "tenants from hell" who turned their property into a car wash facility.

Besides these you can have any other clause that you think might be suitable for your special case. Two important things to remember while drafting a rent contract:-

  1. The contract can't stipulate any illegal terms.
  2. You are not a lawyer (unless you actually are) and you should hire one to draft a contract for you. Sure you can suggest him/her the terms you want and he/she will advise you on whether it is a good idea or not. Any way discussing things with your lawyer is good :)

Also check out our free guide on contract basics for landlords and tenants.

-Akshat Jiwan Sharma

Thank you for reading