A Tenancy Agreement is a contract between two parties i.e. the tenant and the landlord, which gives the tenant the right to occupy the property on condition that the tenant pays the landlord rent for letting their property.
It lays out the obligations of both the tenant and the landlord towards each other so that it minimizes the possibility of disputes arising after the property is rented.
A Tenancy Agreement may be oral or written. However, oral agreements can be difficult to enforce because there is often no proof of what has been agreed. It is thus advisable to have a written agreement as it is easier to prove in case of a dispute arising between the tenant and the landlord after the property is rented.
It is essential that a Tenancy Agreement cover the all the basic requisites. Below is a brief outline of clauses which you should include in your Tenancy Agreement.
This is the landlord and the tenant.
Term of the tenancy clause
This is the start and finish date for the tenancy.
Amount of rent & Method of Payment clause
The amount of rent, how frequently it is paid, and in what manner it should be paid should be clearly stipulated. Also, for purposes of clarity the amount of rent that is to be paid by the tenant each month should be stated in numbers as well as in words.
An example of the above would read;
“One Hundred Thousand Rwanda Francs (100,000 RWF) per month, payable by the tenant to the landlord by cheque on the first day of every month.”
If you are a landlord it is advisable include a clause requiring the tenant to pay a deposit (usually the equivalent of one months rent) as security for his/her fulfillment of obligations towards you. Such a deposit is refundable to the tenant upon termination of the tenancy provided that the tenant has discharged all his/her obligations i.e. paid rent kept the property in good condition and given back possession of the property at the end of the tenancy.
However, if on termination it is discovered that the tenant negligently damaged the property, you can use the deposit to restitute the property to its former condition and refund whatever amount remains to the tenant.
Tenant’s obligations clause
This clause sets out the tenant’s obligations. Typically it will include the following; the tenant shall pay rent on time, pay for electricity and water bills, keep the property in good condition, inform the landlord of any damage to the property and seek the landlord’s permission before sub-letting the property.
Landlord’s obligations clause
Similarly, a clause laying out the responsibilities of the landlords should be included e.g. the landlord shall repair the property in case of damages (not negligently caused by tenant) and the landlord shall grant the tenant quiet possession of the house.
Other clauses which should be included are; a termination clause, notice clause, and dispute resolution clause. In addition, the Agreement should include a provision for a signatures of both Parties. Upon signing the agreement, it becomes legally binding, therefore care should be taken to read it very carefully before appending your signature to it.
Richard Balenzi is a lawyer