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  • Asaf Arazi, ADV

Going to rent an apartment? What is important to notice before signing a rental contract

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

Sometimes tenants seek my legal counsel when having a dispute with the landlord and losing money because of agreements that were drawn up to their detriment. In this article I outline the main issues that are important to pay attention to before signing an apartment rental agreement

Once in a while, tenants, renting an apartment, contact me just before moving out of an apartment they rented, when the owner of the apartment makes extreme demands from them regarding repairing, painting walls, canceling the optional rental period or doesn't want to return the guarantees (deposits). In the worse cases, tenants are faced with a big problem, when there are damages in the apartment that make it impossible to live in it, and the owner of the apartment is not willing to terminate the contract while holding the tenant's money. Therefore, it is highly recommended to consult a lawyer before signing a lease. However, there are a number of basic things that every tenant should pay attention to:

1. What is the rented property, from the legal perspective?

The fact that an agent or a landlord showed you a certain apartment and told you that this is the property they are going to rent out - does not indicate anything from the legal point of view. It is important to check the definition of the property in the lease agreement and to check the compatibility of the leased property within the land registry. It is important to check the land registry and compare both to the lease and to what they showed you in reality. This is the only way you will know that the rented apartment/property is indeed what was shown to you in practice.

2. Who is the lessor?

It is important to take ID card copies of the landlord and check with the land registry that the person signing the contract is really the owner of the apartment. If he is not registered as the owner of the apartment - there may be a reason for this. In this case, relevant documents should be demanded from the lessor and the matter should be looked deeply. Cases of fraud in which a person who is not the owner of an apartment fraudulently took money from tenants and finally left them without money and without the apartment have happened in the past. It is also recommended to search the records for information about the owner of the property. It is not recommended to sign agreements with people with a dubious past.

3. What are the guarantees that the landlord requires?

Check what collateral the apartment owner requires - bank guarantee, cash deposit, a check, guarantors, etc. It is recommended to make sure that the collateral required by the apartment owner is reasonable in relation to the value of the apartment, the rent and the length of the rental period.

4. Option to continue the lease

Is there an option to continue the lease defined in the contract? What is expected during the option period in terms of rental fee and in terms of other conditions?

5. Current taxes and payments

It is important to make sure that the tenant does not bear any payments that the apartment owner should pay (various municipal levies and payments for the renovation of the common area).

6. Reasonable wear and tear

Due to the continuous use of the apartment, there is natural and reasonable wear and tear that happens in the apartment. It is customary in rental contracts to distinguish between breakdowns, damages and defects caused by the tenant and therefore he must repair them, contrary to normal natural wear and tear that the apartment owner must repair at his own expense (for example, filling air conditioners with gas or repairing a solar heater).

7. Extreme cases/Force majeure?

Usually, people do not prepare themselves for cases of force majeure or other extreme cases, but the corona epidemic as well as cases of houses that collapsed due to negligence or extreme wear and tear (recently happened in Ramat Gan and Holon) proved to us that extreme cases do happen - and unfortunately most tenants are not prepared for them. What happens in such cases must be defined in the contract.

In this article I have chosen to review the main issues, however, there are many other issues in a lease that must be considered - such as changes to the apartment, insurance, liability for damages, transferring the right to rent and the right to own the property and much more.

This article consists general information, and does not constitute a valid legal advice.

For legal advice on this issue or any other, please contact us.

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