After many years of handling rental transactions we would have to be completely blind not to see some recurring patterns amongst tenants, especially when people first arrive in Macau.
This list of common misconceptions may look innocent enough, but the difference in expectation is usually the source of major rental conflicts, and one that could be easily avoided with a little more clarity up front.
When you consider the rental process usually involves at least two different languages (sometimes three), its not surprising that misunderstandings are commonplace.
Bearing this mind, it is wise to get all agreements in writing prior to signing a final contract.
Carrying on from last week, we continue with some of the most common misconceptions…
I can paint the apartment any colour I want
You may assume the answer is “yes, of course!” because “This is MY apartment!” But you’d be wrong.
Most leases stipulate that when you move out, the apartment must be restored to the same condition you got it in.
If you painted the walls purple, you could be expected to repaint them to their original white. And covering purple paint isn’t such an easy task.
Some agreements state that written permission is required before painting or decorating.
Putting up pictures, driving nails into the walls to hang artwork, changing the colour scheme etc are all things that need to be pre-approved and/or reversed when you move out.
Basically, the landlord will accept normal wear-and-tear in the apartment, and everything else is on the tenant.
Before moving in it is important to do a walk-through with photos to record the actual condition of the property.
Don’t forget that damages to the apartment will be deducted from your security deposit. Do you still want deep purple walls?
Pets are welcome
Many owners simply forbid any cats or dogs.
Those that do allow pets usually have a clause to say the apartment must undergo a deep clean upon termination of the agreement, and funds will be withheld to take care of this (a deep clean typically costs around MOP2,000).
Check your landlord’s policies, and while not all landlords refuse to allow pets, many say they do for financial reasons.
Dogs can scratch doors and hardwood floors, and not every pet can handle long hours left alone in an apartment while their human is at work.
Barking also disturbs neighbours, and accidents can stain carpets, cause hygiene issues and wreck flooring.
If the landlord and the building management allow pets, you may be asked to pay an extra pet security deposit. And of course pet owners are absolutely expected to clean up after their animals.
The landlord cannot throw me out of the apartment…
Yes, you can be evicted under certain circumstances. These include;
If a tenant does not pay rent at the appropriate time;
If a tenant uses the property for illegal purposes;
If all or part of the property is sub-leased without the express permission of the landlord;
If the usage of the property is different from the original purpose, for example if the apartment is used as an office or workshop space;
If alteration work on the apartment is carried out without the express permission of the landlord.
There is a maximum that the landlord can increase the rent…
There have been calls from residents to try to ‘cap’ rent increases. However, it is likely that interference in the market would have a reverse effect as we have seen many times in the past.
For example, if rent increases were capped at 15 percent, many owners would not rent properties. As supply falls and demand grows, this would push rental prices even higher in the mid and long term.
The Macau Government is discussing a rental cap increase, but it is not yet effective. According to Macau Law, the rental amount paid by a tenant is in agreement with both parties.
Macau law states that a rent increase must be ‘reasonable’. By definition this means that as long as both parties agree to it, it is deemed reasonable.
The landlord is responsible for handling emergency repairs
No one wants to deal with a burst pipe at midnight on a Tuesday, but it’s a repair that has to be handled ASAP.
You need to know how the owner wants you to respond in an genuine emergency: Fixing a running toilet on your own because it was driving you nuts and the owner didn’t respond quickly enough may leave you stuck with the bill.
Before choosing an apartment it’s important to know how all kinds of repairs are handled as mentioned in this article, but particularly the emergencies.
Continued next week…
Juliet Risdon is a Director of JML Property and a property investor.
Having been established in 1994, JML Property offers investment property & homes. It specializes in managing properties for owners and investors, and providing attractive and comfortable homes for tenants.