Tips before signing a contract
In case you want to manage independently the stipulation of a contract, we suggest you to be extremely careful especially if you are not well-prepared about contracts. Below, you will find a guideline that can help you to act confidently.
Is there a regular contract?
Try to avoid any verbal agreement: a lot of misunderstandings can take place because of lack of clarity between the two parties involved (lessor and lessee).
If it’s the first time you have to sign a contract we suggest you not to be in hurry because you are afraid to lose your opportunity: You have the right to understand clearly the contract.
So, we suggest you to read it carefully and make questions. If it’s not clear, ask a copy or a draft of it, fix with the landlord a deadline after which you will give him/her an answer (maximum 1 day) and take the time you need to show it to an expert (i.e. lawyer, Tenants, House and Territory Union…) or to one of the member of the Bussola/Sais staff.
Where do I have to pay attention when reading a contract?
- Be sure that it is a contract provided by Law 431/98.
- A valid contract must show the essentials elements stipulated in the Civil Code (see next chapter).
- Duration: we suggest you to inform from the beginning the landlord about how long are you going to stay in Bologna.
- Renewal and lease take over : check always that these two articles are present in the agreement. In case of a joint contract type it won’t be possible for only one tenant to end the contract giving the advance notice unless he finds someone that takes his place.
- Check the presence of “restrictive clauses” i.e. conditions that could be too much onerous for the tenant (example: “in case the tenant hasn’t paid the amount of the rental within the agreed deadline, the landlord has the right to lock the door of his bedroom until the payment of it , etc.. “)
- Return of the deposit: if it’s not provided by the contract it’s necessary to specify the modality for the return of the deposit, especially for an international student. We remind you that according to the law n. 392/78, art. 11, the deposit may not exceed the amount of three-monthly rent and has the function to guarantee the landlord “not only for the payment of the rent, but also for the damages caused by a lack maintenance in the apartment”.
- Check the state of the apartment: to check the state of an apartment before entering it, can help you noticing possible damages caused by previous tenants or to underline works, at the expense of the landlord, which are necessary to make the apartment suitable. Only after this control it is advisable to sign the contract. Furthermore, it is advisable to draw up a checklist when you enter the apartment and/or take some pictures in order to leave it, at the end of the contract, in the proper way.
- Bills and Utilities: costs for connection to utilities are at the expense of tenant/s in case it’s not convenient doing the transfer of a contract. There are different ways to pay bills and generally if you have a short-term contract it’s the landlord that decides the payment method, to be sure you’ll pay it. Examples: payment of a fixed amount with the balance at the end of the contract; lump sum payment calculated on previous bills already paid; payment calculated on real consumption and equally divided between all the tenants. In case the landlord decides to put the bills on his name, he will pay it in advance and then ask to tenants for a refund.
- It’s better to pay deposit and first month, only after having signed the agreement.
NEVER give/send any money without asking for a receipt.
- To sign a contract means to claim that the apartment is in good conditions. So, before formalizing the agreement, you have to check the real state of the apartment in order to reveal previous damages or possible maintenance works that the landlord has to do to make it suitable.
- Hand over the deposit: generally, the new tenant hands over the deposit to the previous one. This is the simpler way for both, landlord and tenants, even if tenants are not ensured in this case. The landlord must check the state of the apartment when a tenant enters/leaves it and both (tenant and landlord) must sign a document that certify this procedure.
Finally, in addition to a written document, clauses, terms and conditions heavily guaranteed to ensure the good result of an agreement we consider, based on our experience, transparency and clearness important “ingredients” to facilitate the collaboration between the parties during the contractual relationship.