Move House Series – the Lease
When the time comes to move house, it is quite natural to be both frightened and excited. You can tell that it is going to be a big deal because somewhere in the process, someone is going to sit you down with a big pile of paperwork and tell you to start signing things.
It might feel as though the paperwork is interfering with things that are more important to you at the moment, like finding boxes to carry your stuff and asking your friends to help carry them. The paperwork is an important part of the process, so having some understanding of what you are about to sign will help it run smoothly. It could also save you heartache, not to mention considerable money down the line.
Stand in the landlord’s shoes
Even though you are excited to be moving out and into a new place, even at this stage you are probably realizing that this may not be where you are going to spend the rest of your life. However, the property likely represents a major investment for the landlord. You may be feeling that all the paperwork is designed in the landlord’s interest and the landlord is likely feeling that the regulations are loaded in the tenant’s favor. Actually, if the required paperwork favors any party, it is the court system; as having everything agreed to and understood upfront, all parties are less likely to wind up before a magistrate.
Your lease is legally binding
One of the first things you will be given is a lease. A lease is simply a contract between you and the landlord where you agree to pay a fee, or rent, to use the property as a place to live. There may be other provisions to the lease, but none as important. Breaking a lease can be expensive, it means that you unable or unwilling to live up to your end of the contract. There are certain circumstances where you will be protected if you need to break the lease.
Read tenant guidelines before you move house
According to the Tenant’s Union of Victoria, you can break the lease before you move in if the premises are unfit for human habitation, not in good repair, there is someone else living there, or for any other reason they are not suitable for habitation. If you do decide to move in, you should be provided with a Statement of Rights and Duties Booklet, two copies of a Conditions Report (if you have paid a bond), and the landlord’s contact information. If the landlord is using an agent, you will receive the agent’s information as well.
Fixed or periodic lease
Whilst your lease can be either periodic or fixed term, it is likely you will initially be asked to sign a 6 or 12 month fixed term lease. A fixed term lease is more secure, but it may be expensive if you need to leave before the end of the term. The periodic, or month to month lease allows more flexibility, you need only give 28 days notice before moving out. However the landlord also has the right to serve you with a Notice to Vacate if they want you to leave. Once your fixed term lease finishes, it will normally default to the month to month lease until either you or the landlord initiate, and then agree upon another fixed term lease. We will discuss breaking a fixed term lease in an upcoming post.
Read (and understand) prior to signing
Before you sign the lease, be sure to read it carefully, and if there are any parts that you do not understand, seek clarification before entering into the agreement. If you intent to keep a pet, be sure there is a provision for it in the lease, or that the “no pets” clause is crossed out.
You must be given a copy of your lease within 14 days of signing. Good Luck moving into your new home!
photo credit: NobMouse