Chinedu recently found a suitable apartment after about 3 months of searching. He called his friend Femi to go with him to check the apartment before he made the payment. As they checked out the apartment, the landlord dropped by to give Chinedu his tenancy agreement so he could sign. Femi on sighting the agreement stopped Chinedu from signing as it didn’t contain the necessary items that it should.

As a guide to Chinedu and you – either as a ‘landlord’ or ‘tenant’, let’s go through the essential things to look out for in a tenancy agreement:

  1. Names of Parties and a Proper Description of the Apartment: Your tenancy agreement should contain your name and address and describe you either as the landlord or tenant.  A proper and adequate description of the apartment you intend renting should also be stated in the tenancy agreement.  If you are renting a 3-bedroom flat and not with the boys’ quarters, it must be clearly stated.

  2. Term of Tenancy: Your tenancy agreement must state the duration of your tenancy; whether it’s for a year, six months or one month. If your tenancy is for a fixed term without the option of renewing your tenancy and you have to move out of the premises when that time elapses, it should also be stated.  If you have the option of renewal after your tenancy period expires, this means a new tenancy year automatically begins for you. This new tenancy can either be on the same terms as the initial agreement you have with your landlord or different terms. Always ensure that any new or additional terms should be captured in your tenancy agreement.

  3. Rent: This is the core of a tenancy agreement. Your tenancy agreement should clearly state the amount you will pay as rent and when that rent is to be paid.

  4. Subletting: A clause on subletting and whether this is permitted or not in the apartment you intend renting, should be in your tenancy agreement. Most times, your tenancy agreement might allow you to sublet only when you have obtained the written consent of your landlord. Ensure that you comply with this before subletting.

  5. Facilities, its Maintenance and Repairs: This clause is important so you are sure whose responsibility it is to pay for the bills, taxes and charges on the property and so you don’t keep making payments for what you shouldn’t. Payments of things like the water bill, electricity bill, land use charge, ground rent, estate dues etc. should be clearly stated in your tenancy agreement. You should check the tenancy agreement to see if a service charge/ fee is charged in addition to the rent. Also, be sure of what part of the maintenance and repairs is yours to cater for.

  6. Notice to Quit: You must know the amount of notice that the agreement stipulates that your landlord should give you as a tenant before terminating the tenancy. The standard period of notice required for a yearly tenant is six months; for a quarterly tenancy, three months, and for a monthly tenancy, one month.

  7. Rules and Regulations: The agreement must also state whatever peculiar rules the landlord wants you to abide by. Issues such as keeping pets, receiving visitors, parking spaces, etc. must be stated. No assumptions must be made.

  8. Signature and Witnessing: Like every agreement, both parties must append their signatures at the end of the document. There will also be a space for a third party to witness it on behalf of the parties.

Ensure you read the agreement thoroughly and make sure that you understand it to see if the terms or provisions in it are suitable for you before signing and ensure to keep a copy for yourself. If you are unclear about some terms speak to a lawyer. Need a properly created tenancy agreement, get yours here.