Letting Small Print For First Time Tenants
It is an exciting time in anyone’s life, up there with learning to drive, great relationships, and graduation.
Getting the keys to your first home, whether as an individual or a couple, is a major coup.
Many people will decide to rent rather than buy when moving out for the first time, before making a major commitment to a forever property.
Renting offers flexibility, a chance to discover your preferences and tastes, and the chance to move on as your circumstances change.
In addition, rental rates in Malta vary depending on location, size, type of property, and whether it comes furnished or unfurnished.
There are, however, things to be aware of and keep in mind when you are new to the renting game: read on to discover the small print for first time tenants…
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It may seem obvious that when you rent, you will need to pay rent to your landlord. In addition to the, however, there may be hidden fees which you are not initially made aware of.
If you find the property through an agent, you will have to pay fees to the agency, as well as any fees your landlord requires.
Check your contract carefully; there may be maintenance fees and security deposit, and you will usually have to pay a deposit, as well as a certain number of months rent up front.
You may be charged for copies of contracts, key release, and be charged for any early termination of the lease – an early exit charge.
It is a good idea to take out renters insurance, to protect yourself if your landlord decides to sell up or terminate your lease, and sensible to take out contents insurance for your belongings.
Find out any hidden charges right at the start, and avoid any unpleasant surprises.
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Upon receiving your keys, you will no doubt be excited and keen to move your things in and make the place your own.
Before you do anything, however, make sure you take a thorough inventory of everything in the property.
Make a detailed list of everything, which comes with the property, from furniture to electronics, soft furnishings, garden objects, kitchen supplies, decorations and fittings.
Make sure this is overseen by an agency member or, ideally, the landlord.
This covers you at the end of your tenancy; unfortunately, there are unscrupulous landlords and even simple mistakes.
At the end of your tenancy, you need to be able to account for each and every item, which was provided on day one.
Similarly, take photographs of every room, decorations and any issues or flaws the day you move in: this covers you from accusations of damages, and will allow you to get your whole deposit back.
Cover Yourself For Bills
Unless you are one of the lucky ones who have bills included in the tenancy, you will be responsible for electricity, water, internet and other bills.
In Malta, it is unusual for water, electric and TV to be included in the rental rate if the lease if long term (usually 4 months and over).
It is a good idea when looking at properties to speak to the current tenants to get an idea of how much they pay.
If the electricity or water seems excessively high compared to similar properties, then be aware – it may indicate a problem with the site.
As with your inventory, it is a good idea to photograph the gas and electric meters on move in day, to ensure that there are no mix-ups with bills or energy companies, or that you don’t end up paying the bill of the previous tenants.
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Check Your Rights
One of the key things to check when renting is your privacy rights whilst a tenant.
There should be a pre-arranged agreement in place, set out in the contract.
This will notify you of your rights as a tenant, including your landlords right of access, and the amount of notice they need to give you before entering the property.
This includes access for viewings and scheduled maintenance, but will likely not include emergencies such as flooding.
Make sure you check the small print, so you don’t get any nasty surprises on move in day!
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Don’t End Up In A Sticky Spot!
It can be tempting.
You have your own place, a friend needs a room for a night, then a week, then a few months…and they feel bad imposing on you, so offer you some cash…before you know it, you’re technically subletting, an activity which could land you with a €23,000 fine in Malta.
So make sure you know exactly what the contract says, to prevent you getting into any trouble!