Finding your first Bangkok Apartment Part 4: The Contract
So you’ve found the Bangkok apartment you want to call home, it looks great, it feels, great, it even smells great, it’s in your ideal location and you can afford the monthly rent without having to sell a kidney, the only thing standing between you and a set of front door keys is your signature.
You glance at the contract, it looks long and complicated and the writing it kind of small, you’re tempted to just sign it. In fact the property agent was ever-s helpful and your new landlord seems like a kind and friendly person, you are more than tempted to just skim read it, as a couple of obvious questions so it makes you look like you are paying attention and then just sign away so you can start moving your stuff in. DON’T DO IT! Never let your excitement and eagerness to move in overshadow the importance of your apartment contract.
Before you sign..
Read the contract from start to end, making sure you understand every word of it. It’s very acceptable and normal for a tenant to spend some time reading over the contract more than once before signing, taking it away and reading it if they need to. And if you just don’t understand any part of it don’t be afraid to ask for it to be explained.
The contract may look long and boring but it’s legally binding and there to protect both the landlord and the tenant. They will have been through it several times to make sure their side is covered and all their expectation are there in writing it’s important you do the same, making sure everything you agreed is clearly there in writing.
Things to check
It should be made clear in the contract exactly how long that contract lasts and what happens when that time period is up. don’t just assume that by signing a 12 month contract you are free to collect your deposit and move out once the 12 months are up, many contracts still require you to give notice that you will move out from 1 to 2 months in advance. So even though your contact may end in December, if you don’t notify your landlord in the required way at least 30 or 60 days before you will still be expected to continue to pay the rent or lose your deposit!
Make sure the contract termination rules and penalties are also made clear i.e. under what circumstances can the landlord break the contract early and how much notice do they have to give you. And what are acceptable circumstances under which you can break the contract, and what will the penalty be.
Make sure the deposit amount is clearly made out in both number and writing to avoid any possible error.
You should already know what utility bills you are responsible for, but make sure it’s all there in the contract, and make sure the appropriate utility bills are changed into your name.
Maintenance and repairs
The contract also needs to also cover what happens if anything in the apartment breaks or needs repairing/replacing. No doubt if you drop and break anything you’ll be expected to replace it, but what happens if something breaks due to age?
Paying the rent
Last but not least, the rent amount must be clearly stated on the contract as a number and in written format, clearly stating what date the rent is due every month and any penalties that may occur for late payment.
Most ‘good’ landlords will have a detailed check list of all the major fittings and furnishings in their apartment noting the condition and sometimes even the location of each piece. It’s in both parties interests to go through this list together in detail, changing and updating where appropriate. This is often done after signing the contract but it’s best advised to do it just before (it’s a good way to give your new landlord a last minute character test).
Should there be any disputes over the condition of an item the best solution is to get a picture of it for the record. This can be a painstaking exercise but it’s an important procedure in order to protect everyone involved.
Once you have the contract sign and you have your hands on your new set of keys it’s time to get your things move in, and finally get a long and peaceful sleep in your wonderful first Bangkok apartment!
Finding your first Bangkok Apartment Part 1: Research and prep
Finding your first Bangkok Apartment Part 2: Starting searching
Finding your first Bangkok Apartment Part 3: Viewing properties