When renting an apartment in Hong Kong, many landlords and tenants often forget to discuss crucial details of the tenancy agreement before signing it. Due to miscommunication and misunderstanding regarding the lease agreement, this often leads to conflict and in worst case scenario, both parties end up in court. To avoid the worst case scenario, please make sure you ask your landlord these questions before signing a lease agreement.

Check whether the property is mortgaged

Before considering renting a certain apartment, we advise you to protect your own interests by checking whether the property is mortgaged with your landlord or the Land Registry. The mortgage agreement usually states that landlords cannot rent out their property without the bank’s approval, therefore you should ask the landlord for this proof of document. If the landlord rents out the property without the bank’s approval and stops paying the mortgage, the tenant can no longer continue renting the property and could potentially lose his security deposit.

Confirm the details of rental property

Since written consent holds stronger than verbal consent in the court of law, ask your landlord to clearly state the details of the rental property in the tenancy agreement. These details include public facilities or clubhouse facilities he is entitled to use, and furniture and electrical appliances included in the apartment. Before signing the lease agreement, it is always beneficial for both parties to check and confirm the details.

Clearly state additional expenses in the tenancy agreement

Other than the monthly rent and security deposit, the tenancy agreement should also state the additional expenses, such as rates, management fees, regular expenses and non-regular expenses. If these additional expenses are confirmed and put in writing, there is no room for argument in the court of law.

Respective responsibility in maintenance and repairs

The issue of maintenance and repairs in rental property always creates conflict between landlords and tenants, as their respective responsibilities aren’t specified in the rental agreement. Before signing the lease, both parties should confirm whose responsibility it is to maintain and repair the interior and exterior of the rental property.

Written consent for alterations of rental property

Property alterations are another issue that often creates dispute between both parties. Generally speaking, the tenant isn’t allowed to make alterations to fittings or partitions of the rental property, but if the tenant wishes to make these changes, he should always have written consent from the landlord. If the landlord allows alterations, the tenant may be required to pay a higher amount of deposit to protect the landlord’s interests.