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Acquiring a short lease

Acquiring a short lease is a matter of entering in to a contract with a landlord that is fixed for a relatively short time. A short time can mean several years, a few months or just a few weeks. Just because the lease is very short, it does not mean the contract is necessarily very simple and worry free. There are a wide variety of short leases available (see Short Leases). And the specific contractual agreements within standard lease types are infinitely variable.

Most people take up short leases, if they know for definite that they will stay in the rented accommodation, for a definite fixed time or they know they are in transition and expect to move on, in a less than definite time. Examples of this are students and young professionals that have not yet settled down.

There are people who have decided to rent permanently on a short lease usually because they have had a bad experience paying a mortgage e.g. being trapped in negative equity in the past. If you decide to rent on a long term basis with short leases, it is best to weigh up the pros and cons of this compared with buying a house using a mortgage. Historically it has been better to buy, since house prices have always risen in the long term and rental money is just "money down the drain".

Short leases can be acquired for property that is furnished or unfurnished by the landlord. As a general rule, property that is being rented for a very short time tends to be furnished. This is typical in the case of student accommodation. Property that is rented out for a longer term tends to be unfurnished, for example renting a house for several years with a family.


Lease Contract Considerations

When agreeing a short lease with a landlord, you should be sure of the following financial points: who is responsible for council tax, water, gas, electricity, telephone and tv licensing bills. It may be that these bill are shared with your fellow tenants.

If you have pets, you will need agreement from the landlord to let you keep them in the property and this should be written into the contract. It is usually a standard contractual clause not to allow pets. Also, if you have children, make sure the contract allows for them too.

With regards to furniture fixtures and fittings and the condition of the property care must be taken to ensure who is responsible for repairs and renewals:

  • If the landlord is providing furniture, you are responsible for ensuring that these only suffer fair wear and tear.
  • Where furniture is being provided, the landlord will give you an inventory list to sign to state clearly which furniture belongs to the landlord
  • On moving in, make a check of all the furniture noting any existing wear and damage then get the landlord to sign an agreement that you are note responsible for the existing damage and wear.
  • When moving in, inspect the whole property, inside and out noting anything that needs putting right, including loose outside drainage, the state of decoration in each room, wear on carpets and get a written agreement that it is not you that is responsible for any expense required for these.


Assignment of a lease

You do not have to necessarily have to obtain a new lease directly from a landlord - you may know a tenant who intends to move on before the end of his lease. In which case he can assign the lease to you with the agreement of the landlord. In this case, you may sometimes be asked by the existing tenant for a premium for having the lease assigned to you, this may be a payment for the existing tenants furniture, or the rent for the lease is substantially below the current market rate.

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