When you want to rent a house, you become a prospective Tenant. Now who is a tenant???
Who is A Tenant?
A tenant is a person that occupies land or property rented from a landlord and is subject to payment of rent.
Getting a place to rent can be quite a challenge no matter where you are. However, it is especially stressful in our beloved country as is anything else (Lol). The process tends to take a while and this can range from a few days to a few weeks or even more.
What to do Before You Rent a Place
Set a Budget
The first thing you need to do is decide on your budget. It helps you “cut your coat accordingly” and saves you from wasting time on houses that aren’t for you. If you are using a realtor or an agent, your budget helps them advice you on what kind of house you can get and in what locations.
When setting your budget, it is important to note that rent is not the only thing you will end up paying for and it is best to consider these extra fees when planning.
Plan for other Fees
In some metropolitan areas, you may be asked to pay a token ranging from ₦1,000 – ₦3,000 to “view” the house. This is usually used to cover the transportation of whomever is showing you the house. While this is not a fee you have to pay, it has become common practice in a lot of cities and it is advisable to consider it especially when you aren’t sure what you are looking for and plan to be looking at a lot of houses.
Fast forward a few days or weeks and yippee!, you’ve found a place you love that is within your budget. It’s time to pay the rent… (Remember those extra fees I mentioned?). You’ll be expected to pay the following along with your rent:
Agent’s commission (Agency fees): This is usually 10% and is paid to the caretaker or agent of the property who referred you to the landlord or helped you in getting your new apartment.
Lawyer’s commission (Tenancy Agreement Fees): Additionally, you should plan to pay another 10% agreement fees to the lawyer of the landlord who will draft the tenancy agreement. Now before signing anything, make sure you read through the agreement thoroughly and if possible get a professional (i.e your own lawyer to read through it as well).
Caution Fees: This is basically a security deposit and the amount is usually determined by the landlord. The security deposit is held to ensure compliance to set rules in the tenancy agreement. In case any damage occurs during the tenor of your tenancy, the cost of repairs will be deducted from your caution fee when your tenancy ends. If no damage is done, the caution fee will be refunded to you in full.
Service Charge: Some landlords now require payment of service charges which cover a variety of services concerning the upkeep of the house. These services could include but are not limited to; cleaning, gardening, waste disposal, pumping of water and sometimes light and water bills.
It is important to confirm the details of these different extra fees when renting a place to avoid conflict. Ensure you discuss with your prospective landlord the exact amount requested as caution fees and the situations where deductions can be made from it. Preferably, ensure that it is stated in the tenancy agreement.
Also have the scope of the services covered by the service charge clearly listed in the tenancy agreement. I cannot over emphasize the importance of reading through any agreement before signing and/or paying any of the fees or rent.
Things to Note in Your Tenancy Agreement
In reading through your tenancy agreement, there are a few things to look out for;
- Duration of the tenancy;
- Amount agreed on;
- Who covers cost of work done on the house for the tenancy duration;
- Services covered by the service charge;
- Amount to be paid as extra fees( caution, agency and agreement fees);
- Time frame before possible rent increment.
There you have it, with all that put into consideration, you can now officially become a tenant.
Do not forget to get a receipt for your rent and a copy of the tenancy agreement duly signed by you and the landlord.
Finally, don’t forget to make sure you get all copies of the keys to the house and if possible change the locks before moving in, just to be safe.
Written by Eruké Onohwosa