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How to Spot a Tenancy Agreement That Is Unfair to You

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before signing

We often make the mistake of entering into a rental agreement without considering what we’re getting into. Before you sign that tenancy agreement, it is essential to ensure that you understand the key components and potential risks involved in such an undertaking.

The quality of your tenancy experience will improve if you read and comprehend the tenancy agreement you are about to sign. Signing a paper without fully understanding its contents is a bad idea.

To help you make an informed decision about a rental agreement, this article offers some tips to consider.

What Is a Tenancy Agreement?

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract that sets out the landlord and tenant’s respective rights, obligations, and responsibilities. It also functions as an official record of the rental agreement. It is crucial for both parties to carefully review and understand the agreement’s terms before signing.
Within the tenancy agreement, the landlord and tenant agree to specific terms, including but not limited to the rental duration, the amount of rent payable, rules governing maintenance or repairs, and other relevant conditions.
It is advisable to seek legal advice or consult a trusted professional before signing any legal document to ensure that both parties interests are adequately represented.

Type of Tenancy Agreements

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Various types of tenancy agreements are available for landlords and tenants to consider. Specific laws and regulations may apply depending on the type of agreement chosen. Some common types of tenancy agreements are:

Fixed-term lease: A fixed-term lease is a binding legal agreement between a landlord and tenant that outlines the terms of their tenancy for a specific period, typically 12 months. During this period, the tenant must pay the agreed-upon rent and cannot terminate the lease prematurely, except under certain conditions.

Periodic tenancy: A month-to-month lease allows both parties the option to end the lease at any time throughout the month, hence the name. Tenants unwilling to commit to a long-term lease or needing to vacate the premises quickly may benefit from this option.

Short-term tenancy: Typically used for vacation or other short-term rentals, this agreement lasts six months or less. Similar to a fixed-term lease, both parties must agree on the length of the tenancy.

Subletting: This is when a tenant sublets all or part of the space they rent from the landlord. As some landlords may forbid subletting, the parties should negotiate the specifics of the agreement before signing it.

Key Considerations Before Signing a Tenancy Agreement

Before signing a tenancy agreement, it is important to take the time to carefully review the document and consider all aspects of the lease.

Several elements should be considered when evaluating a tenancy agreement, including tenant rights, landlord responsibilities, payment terms, maintenance requirements, etc. By reviewing these elements in detail, potential tenants can ensure they are aware of all the details included in the agreement before signing.

Before signing a tenancy agreement, it is crucial to consider the following key factors.

Length of Lease/Term of Stay

The duration of your lease should be specified in detail. While many contracts are for a set period, say 6 or 12 months, some may be open-ended. Possible penalties for early termination of your lease include providing your landlord with notice of your intent to vacate the premises.

In addition, you are responsible for keeping track of your rent due date and any other fees or charges associated with your tenancy.

You should know what happens if you want to leave the tenancy before the term’s conclusion and if any fees are involved.

Lastly, make sure you know your options when your lease is up. Can I expect an automatic renewal? Is there a notice period if an employee decides they no longer want to work there?

This information will ensure that no misunderstandings or surprises arise due to the agreement.

Rent, Expenses, and Security Deposits

You should find out if it is legal in your area if your landlord requests an exceptionally large security deposit (more than one month’s rent) or unusually high rent. Landlords require security deposits to ensure that tenants maintain the cleanliness and decent condition of rental properties.

So that you are not caught off guard when it comes time to move out, it is important to know the amount of the security deposit required and the terms for recovery (if applicable). You should also be aware of any supplementary charges, such as those linked with utilities, pets, and garbage collection.

Repair and Maintenance Responsibilities

You cannot be so sure of the condition of your rental until you physically inspect it. Check for any damages and ask the landlord responsible for repair and maintenance in case of a problem.

Usually, landlords are responsible for major repairs, such as fixing structural issues or replacing appliances. At the same time, tenants must make minor repairs, like changing light bulbs or unclogging toilet drains.

Make sure to read this section carefully and determine who is responsible for what so that you are not liable for unexpected repairs in the future.

Restrictions on Activities Within the Property

Are you using the rental for residential or commercial use? Be sure to check if the agreement allows for both. If it does not, confirm that you can use the property as you intend to.

Some leases contain clauses limiting occupancy, the number of pets, and other restrictions which may affect your ability to live in or do business at the property. Ensure you understand and are comfortable with all the restrictions before signing.

Also, if any furniture or other items are provided with the rental property, confirm that they are part of the lease agreement. If not, it’s important to make sure that you will have access to them for an agreed-upon length of time or be able to purchase them if needed.

Other Occupants/Subletting Rules

Before signing a lease, you should investigate any subletting or occupancy restrictions. Property owners and managers often have rules that must be followed before a sublease is executed.

It’s also crucial to define exactly who falls within the definition of “occupant” in the lease, as this term might refer to anybody from immediate family members to roommates to even pets.

Including any occupancy limits the landlord imposes in the lease will let tenants know what is expected of them. It’s not just crucial to know who can live there; you also need to know if they’ll have to pay extra rent or put down a security deposit.

Termination Policies

Cancellation policies are another important factor to consider before signing a tenancy agreement. It is essential to understand the conditions for terminating the contract and make sure you are not liable for any financial obligations should anything happen that requires you to leave the rental property before your lease is up.

Check if the tenancy agreement contains provisions such as an early termination clause or whether there are any fees associated with terminating the contract. Ensure you know the circumstances under which you can and cannot terminate your tenancy agreement.

It is also important to understand the landlord’s rights regarding eviction and any other situation where they can legally terminate your tenancy.

Knowing these terms beforehand will help you make an informed decision and avoid any financial burdens that may arise in the future. Do not sign a tenancy agreement until you understand all the contract stipulations.

Check for Hidden Costs or Fees

When signing a tenancy agreement, reading the fine print is important. Ensure you know exactly what is included in your rent and what is not, such as extra utility bills or service charges. Also, many tenancy agreements allow landlords to increase the rent after a certain period. Be aware of this clause and ensure you can afford any rent hikes.

In some cases, landlords may require additional deposits or charges for cleaning fees, pet deposits, and other services. Ensure you understand these costs and how they will be applied before signing the agreement. This can save you from unpleasant surprises down the line.

Check for Compliance with Local Laws and Regulations

The tenant is responsible for ensuring that the rented property complies with all applicable laws and regulations. Things like zoning regulations, health regulations, and safety regulations fall under this category.

For both the landlord and the renter, legal trouble can arise if the property is not up to code or if the landlord has not kept up with recent changes in the law. Check the property carefully and ensure it complies with all standards before signing a lease. Get any concerns resolved before signing a lease.

You should also check whether any changes to the rules or regulations in your area could impact your tenancy.


The duration of your tenancy agreement must be made explicit. Some agreements have a set duration, such as six or twelve months, while others could last indefinitely. You might need to give your landlord advance notice if you wish to vacate your property, and there might be consequences if you break the conditions of your contract.

Additionally, you must be aware of the due dates for your rent and any other financial obligations that come with being a tenant. To avoid unpleasant surprises, be sure you know what will happen if you decide to end your lease early and whether any fines will be involved.

Check what occurs when the lease expires last. Does it renew on its own? If you decide not to stay, do you have to give notice? Knowing these specifics will help guarantee that there are no surprises later on and that both parties are aware of the agreement’s obligations.

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