Renting Property In Zimbabwe
By Davison Kanokanga SC
When you let out your property you want to get money (rent) in exchange for the tenant’s occupation or use of your property. However, it is not unusual for a property owner to end up losing money instead of making it. How does this happen? Well, this is mostly due to some serious mistakes that a property owner makes before or during the tenancy.
Here are some of the common mistakes which property owners make and how you can avoid them:
1. Not doing a thorough check on the quality of the potential tenant both in terms of character and ability to pay. It is important to independently check on the potential tenant’s personal record to establish whether they are not a bad tenant or debtor. You can now do a credit check from the convenience of your home or office free of charge through CreditCheck (www.creditcheck.co.zw)
2. Not drawing up and agreeing with the tenant before occupation on an inventory which lists the defects on the property. Such an inventory is important. The tenant must sign to acknowledge the state in which they will have found the property so that they in future do not allege that the defects were then when they moved in when in fact they were not there.
3. Not getting the tenant to sign a properly drawn Lease Agreement before they move in. A tenant who takes occupation before signing a Lease Agreement may then refuse to sign the Lease Agreement. Should this happen you will as a property owner be stuck. A good Lease Agreement should cover the following aspects:
(a) The duration of the Lease
(b) Whether the Lease will be renewable. If it is renewable, how it will be renewed.
(c) The rent payable as well as how and when it will be paid
(d) The payment of rates, electricity, water and telephone bills. In this regard it is important that all electricity, water and telephone bills be in the tenant’s name and not the property owner’s name.
(e) A Breach Clause which spells out what happens in the event of a breach.
(f) A clause which provides for holding over damages in the event that the tenant remains in occupation after the cancellation or expiration of the lease.
(g) A clause that makes the tenant liable for legal costs on a legal practitioner and client scale in the event that the property owner takes legal action against the tenant.
(h) A dispute resolution clause to establish how disputes will be resolved.
(i) A clause that indicates the parties respective addresses of service.
(j) A clause that makes it clear that the document i.e. Lease Agreement is the entire contract between the parties.
Using Standard Lease Agreements that are sold in some shops is not the best of things for you to do. Even if your Lease Agreement has been drawn up by an Estate Agent it is advisable for you to get the benefit of legal advice by getting a competent lawyer to go through the agreement before you sign it.
The contents of this publication are for general information purposes only. They do not constitute our legal or professional advice. Readers are advised not to act on the basis of the information contained herein alone. Every situation depends on its own facts and circumstances. We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage of whatsoever nature which may arise from reliance on any of the information published herein.
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