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5 Issues to Clarify Before You Sign a Rental Contract

Starting off on the right note with your landlord is a great start to enjoying life here in Libya! Since your landlord is someone who you will likely see often as well as someone you can go to for help and advice on life in Libya, you are wise to make him or her a friend from the beginning. To help in becoming a friend of your landlord, try to cover these five issues before you sign the contract to rent his or her property.

How is the rent to be paid?

This may seem like a normal item that you will naturally discuss with him. However, make sure that you not only agree on the price of the rent, but also on how often the rent is to be paid. It is quite often expected here that the renter pay the entire rent up front at the time the contract is signed. This means you may be expected to pay the full year of rent right away! You may negotiate this to a lower amount (say 6 months, for example), but be sure to remember this issue when speaking with your potential landlords.

Who is responsible for maintenance issues?

What happens if there is a problem with the water pipes or the sewage drains? Who pays for electrical issues with the power outlets or lights? Or what about broken windows or water leaks in the ceilings? All of these are potential issues that you will want to know who is responsible to pay for BEFORE they happen. Usually, the owner is the one who pays for the larger more structural problems such as issues with water pipes, electrical wiring and sewage issues. The renter would pay for issues such as broken windows, doors or other damage that happens after the contract is signed. We recommend though that you be sure to clarify this with your landlord so that you don’t run into conflicts after a problem arises.

Can you break the contract if you have to leave and what happens in that case?

Though you don’t expect to break your contract, issues such as the security situation here in Libya may cause you to have to leave and therefore break the contract. Will you get any of the rent returned if this happens, especially if you paid all the rent up front? Usually if you break the contract simply because it is your decision and not due to an issue out of your control, don’t expect to get money back. If however, there is a major issue such as security and your employer asks you to leave, the landlord may return a portion of your rent. Your chances of getting money back are greater if you have a good relationship with your landlord. That is why we recommend having these conversations at the very beginning.

Who pays the utility bills?

To be quite honest, utilities here in Libya are relatively cheap even if you do have to pay for them yourself. However, it is good to know who pays so you’re not taken by surprise when a bill arrives. Be sure to check whose name is on the utility contract? If it isn’t your name, will you still be able to call for repairs if there is a problem or does the person whose name is on the account have to request the repairs to be made? Is there a meter, specifically for your house or apartment or is there just one for the whole building? If you don’t have a meter specifically for your property, how is the decision made as to how the bills are divided?

How do you renew your contract?

If you enjoy living in the property and want to continue renting after the initial contract term is up, what do you need to do to keep renting? If you paid the rent up front last time, do you need to do the same again? Will the rent be increased? Can you get another contract written in case you need one for your Libyan residency?

Try to ensure a good and friendly relationship with your landlord from the beginning by starting off with good communication. Lessen your stress from making such a major move by discussing these items and become a friend of your landlord!