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  • Writer's pictureImelda Wei Ding Lo

Sample Blog: 3 Legal Pitfalls to be Aware of Before Signing a Lease Agreement as a Tenant

Updated: Oct 8, 2022

When looking for a place that meets your standards, whether commercial or residential, you need to be on your guard regarding potential landlords and the lease agreements they hand over to you for signing. Signing a poorly drafted, incomplete, or unfair lease agreement will ruin your experience living in your new apartment.

Here are three legal pitfalls you should be aware of before signing a lease agreement as a tenant below.

1. Repairs and Maintenance

Firstly, you should check if the lease agreement has said anything about your responsibility for repairs and maintenance of the premises.

Since the landlord is responsible for maintaining the structural portions of the building, such as the floors, walls, foundation, and the heating and air ventilation systems, the landlord should represent and warrant that all plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and electrical systems are in good condition when the tenant first occupies the premises. If your lease agreement makes no clear mention of these responsibilities, this apartment or office is definitely not for you.

As a tenant, you should never sign an unfair lease agreement that makes you take on the landlord’s responsibilities.

2. Contract Remedies

You should also review what the lease agreement says regarding the landlord’s remedies upon tenant default.

Tenant default happens when a tenant breaches one of the covenants in the lease agreement, which usually involves one of the following:

  • Failure to pay the rent or other sums as laid out in the lease agreement

  • Breach of the permitted use

  • An act of insolvency

Upon default, the landlord should be required to provide written notice to the tenant. Further, the lease agreement should give the tenant an opportunity to fix any default. Generally speaking, the time period for remedying a monetary default is short, but the landlord should give you at least 30 days from your receipt of notice for correcting a non-monetary default.

As a tenant, you should never sign an unfair lease agreement that gives you fewer opportunities to cure a default.

3. Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

Finally, you should check if the lease agreement contains a reasonable covenant of quiet enjoyment.

A covenant of quiet enjoyment is a clause or set of clauses within the lease agreement that gives you, the tenant, the right to enjoy the premises free from disturbances and eviction by the landlord as long as you have performed all of your obligations under the lease, such as paying the rent on time. You can determine whether the covenant of quiet enjoyment is reasonable by asking questions such as:

  • Does it include the right to exclude others from the premises?

  • Does it include the right to peace and quiet?

  • Does it include the right to basic services such as elevator services (for high-rise buildings)?

In short, you should never sign a lease agreement that makes it hard or impossible for you to enjoy using the premises.

To Wrap It Up

We hope that you have a better understanding of the possible legal pitfalls you can encounter when signing a lease agreement as a tenant. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about what you should look for before signing a lease agreement.

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