Renting For the First Time? Here’s All That You Need to Know

By: Jency
24th Dec 2021
Rent & Invest

These days, it is common to rent a property for own stay or for commercial use, especially when an individual is not quite ready to purchase a property on their own. While getting to go through the listings and selecting the perfect place is exciting, it is important to be organised with a good understanding of the property market.

Being a first-timer, there could be some challenges that you would face while renting a property, but fret not, as these challenges can easily be avoided with some careful planning.

Here, we have listed a couple of tips that you may find useful if you’re planning on renting for the first time.

  1. Getting Started: Set Your Budget

    Before you commit to renting, it is a good idea to set your budget beforehand. It’s important for you to create a realistic budget that will give you an idea of how much money you have coming in and how much you anticipate spending. Then you would be able to decide whether you can afford renting a property.

  2. Selecting the Right Place

    When scrolling through rental listings, keep in mind what exactly that you need and want from the unit. Determine the factors that are not negotiable and what you can compromise. Doing this can help make it easier to narrow down options.

    Ask yourself these questions:

    • How long do you plan to stay in the area?
    • How far is the property from your office/college?
    • What public transportation options are available?
    • Is it near amenities?
    • Is the area safe or are there any issues with crime?

    Your list can also include the layout of the home as well as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. You should also consider whether you would like to buy your own furniture, or go for a semi or fully furnished place.

  3. Tenancy Agreement

    Once you’ve made the decision to rent a particular property, the owner of the property may require you to fill out a rental application form as part of the preliminary process. Rental applications provide property owners with more information about you. The owner may also require a tenancy agreement to be signed. .

    A Tenancy Agreement usually consists of these features:

    • Rent amount and its due
    • When to pay the monthly rental
    • Whether the tenancy is for a fixed period and the landlord or tenant is not allowed to terminate, or the tenant or landlord is allowed to terminate by giving due notice
    • Notice period that the tenant must give the landlord if he/she decides to terminate the tenancy
    • Notice period the owner must give the landlord if he/she decides
    • The amount of rental deposits to be paid
    • The amount of utilities to be paid
    • When the deposit will be refunded
    • The effect on the tenancy if there is a breach
    • Late payment interest on late payment of rental
    • The landlord is usually is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the exterior part of the property while the tenant will be responsible for the interior and all other fixtures and fittings in the property

    If the terms of the tenancy are not put down in writing and when disputes arise, there will be confusion, misunderstanding and unnecessary arguments on who said what. So you might as well insist on a written tenancy agreement that clearly states all the details and expectations.

  4. Utilities: Who’s Responsible for It?

    Remember that your rent payment is only one portion of your monthly housing expense. If other costs such as utilities and maintenance are very high, you may not be able to afford the rental in the long run. Here are some examples of utilities you would likely be responsible to pay:

    • Electricity charges
    • Water charges
    • Sewerage charges
    • Maintenance charges (for high rise building, condominium or apartment)

    Some condominiums or serviced residences require tenants to pay a monthly maintenance fee to cover shared services such as cleaning of the surrounding areas, gardening, swimming pool service, security and others.

  5. Deposits and Fees

    Once you’ve decided on a property, you will need to pay an upfront amount of money to “book” the property, also known as an earnest deposit. An earnest deposit is an indication that you’re serious about renting the unit. Usually the landlord will ask for 1 month rental as earnest deposit where during this period the owner is not allowed to rent it to anyone else once you’ve paid this amount.

    When the tenancy agreement is drawn up for signing, you will usually be asked to pay 2 months rental as rental deposit and 1 month rental equivalent as utilities deposit. Most tenancy agreement will contain the term that the deposit cannot be used to set-off as rental.

    Rental deposit is paid as security to protect the landlord against any damage caused by the tenant. In case there is any damage to the property, the landlord has the right to deduct the cost of repairs from the rental deposit when the tenant moves out.

    Depending on the terms of the tenancy agreement sometime the tenant may terminate the tenancy by giving due notice of 2 months and vice versa the landlord can do the same.

    The rental deposit and utilities deposit will be returned to you in full upon you returning or redelivery vacant possession of the property to the landlord. But make sure you have repair and restore any damage or renovation done and clean up the property before returning.

  6. Moving In

    Your tenancy agreement should have a term for inspecting your new rental unit prior to moving in and as you move out. You and the owner should inspect the unit together and agree on its condition. To avoid misunderstanding take pictures and keep for reference in the future. Before you move in, list down all contents within the property and existing damages. This is so that when your rent is up, you’ll avoid paying extra for things you were not responsible for.

  7. Your Rights & Responsibilities As A Tenant

    The responsibilities as a tenant will often be detailed within the tenancy agreement. You also need to allow the owner to conduct inspections and necessary maintenance work, provided that an advanced notice is given. You should also ensure that rental payment is on time and the rules stated in the agreement are followed.

    Should you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where you are not able to pay your due rental, the landlord is not allowed to evict you or recover possession of the property unless with a court order . However, if you defaulted and did not pay your rental, the landlord may give you notice to quit demanding that you vacate and return the property to the landlord. If you failed or refused to do so, the landlord may initiate a legal action in court to evict you and while you continue to refuse or fail to return the property to the landlord you may be liable to pay double the monthly rental until the day you redeliver vacant possession of the property to the landlord.

    The landlord may also initiate distress action where the landlord may start in action in court which allows the landlord to attach your belongings located in the property and you will then be given 14 days to pay your outstanding rental failing which your belongings may be auctioned off.

    Any extreme measures such as changing the locks or attempting to evict tenants without necessary court order documents to show will result in landlords being sued for trespassing by their tenants.

  8. Moving Out

    In your tenancy agreement, there will be terms on the process for giving notice prior to moving out. Check the agreement on the number of days’ notice you are required to give. You can furnish this notice either verbally or in writing. If you’re sending a written notice, you should state the date of the notice and the date you intend to move out. It is important to keep a photocopy of this note for your records.

    Always consult professional lawyers to understand your rights before entering into a tenancy agreement. Avoid advise and suggestion given by unscrupulous party claiming to be expert in tenancy and suggestion to use recycled (cut & paste) tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement must be drafted to cater to your desire and need.

With all the items above in mind, we surely hope you’ll find your first rental place that meets your requirements without much hassle. If you would like to browse our rental listings, click here.

The statement and information in the articles are the opinion of the writer and meant only as a guide. Any property purchase, rental or lease involve many legal issues and other complication depending on the individual facts and circumstances. Readers and Users are strongly advised to seek professional advise including from qualified and competent lawyers, bankers and/or real estate agent to verify the information and the statement before embarking on any purchase, rent or lease of any property. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we exclude and disclaim liability for any losses and damages of whatever nature and howsoever cause and arising including without limitation, any direct, indirect, general, special, punitive, incidental or consequential.

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