Tenancy / Leasing Agreements

Before signing a tenancy agreement, both landlord and tenant should request sufficient information from each other in order to protect their own interests and to avoid future disputes.

The landlord needs to make sure the tenant has the financial means to fulfill the tenancy agreement. The landlord should ask the tenant about his/her occupation, and when needed, the landlord can also ask the tenant to provide relevant proof regarding work, income and credit-worthiness.

The tenant should check with the landlord or the Land Registry whether the property is mortgaged. If it is, the tenant should ask the landlord whether the bank has agreed for the property to be rented out. Generally, a mortgage agreement will specify that unless the landlord has obtained the bank’s approval, the mortgaged property cannot be rented out. If the landlord rent outs the property without the bank’s approval and then stops paying the mortgage, when the bank takes possession, the tenant will lost his/her right to continue renting the property. The tenant may also lose his/her deposit.

The tenancy agreement should clearly state the following terms regarding the lease term:

  • Rental period (stated in years or months)
  • The date when the tenancy commences and ends
  • Whether a notice needs to be served prior to the expiry of the tenancy
  • Whether the tenant has the option to renew the tenancy after the tenancy expires
  • Whether there is a “break clause” which allows either party to terminate the tenancy after a certain period of time has occurred or upon occurrence of certain incidents.

If a tenant is given an option to renew his/her tenancy after the expiration of the agreement, the tenancy agreement should clearly state the period during which the tenant must decide to renew the tenancy or not, the duration and new rental of the renewal tenancy (for example, whether the new rent will be adjusted based on a fixed rate of the current rent, or whether the new rent will be adjusted by negotiation).

The tenancy agreement should also include the following:

  • Rental amount
  • Rental by month, by quarter, by year
  • Whether the rent is inclusive of rates, government rent, parking space rental, or management fees, etc.
  • Duration of rent-free period and who is responsible for paying expenses such as management fees and rates in that period
  • The time for advance payment for rent (for example, before a certain day of the month)
  • Payment method (cash, cheque, transfer, etc.)
  • If the rent is not paid on time, whether it will be considered as non-payment of rent and any penalties associated with it