Real Estate Matters | Questions to ask before renting an apartment

Juliet Risdon

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.

Whether you are leasing for the first time, or you are unhappy with your current apartment situation, there are some basic rules that you should keep in mind when renting.  Renting a property may seem a minor process compared to purchasing a property, but three years is a long time to live with problems and inconveniences. Apply a little diligence, take the time to prepare your list of questions and you should avoid problems with your tenancy.

What will the lease, or rental agreement include?

Sounds silly, but often times big ticket items that are discussed verbally but not written into the lease, which more often than not ends in an unpleasant situation all round if the apartment comes with a car park, ensure this is noted (including the parking space number). Some apartments come with cable; if this is the case have it written in.  Often mentioned verbally, but a bone of contention later if it does not materialize, is usage of club house facilities.  If usage is included, insist on it being listed on the agreement. Apart from knowing how much the rent is, understand when the rent is due, to whom and where the rent is to be paid, and how much security deposit is payable.

What is the maintenance policy? 

What fixes are included in the rent and which ones are not. Unfortunately, in Macau there are all too many landlords who are more than willing to rent out apartments but refuse to assist when something goes wrong within the apartment i.e. it is common for landlords to refuse to fix broken appliances such as clothes washing machines.  It is vital that you understand who you are leasing from and what commitment they will give you to making good repairs.  To whom should problems and repairs be referred – emergency contact as well as a non- emergency line. Agree a reasonable response time.

What is the term of the lease and what /if any is the get out clause?

Most of us know that the typical term of a lease in Macau is 3 years. But what happens if you want to leave the lease early?  What about if your blue card isn’t renewed and you must leave the country and therefore break your lease?  Firstly, it is important that you know exactly what type of lease you are signing and what your commitments to it are.  Most agreements are for 3 years, usually with a fixed term of 1 year, allowing 2 months notice to be given after 12 months.  When the term of the lease is up and if the owner is willing to continue the lease, you can agree to a month-to-month agreement of course sign a new lease. 

Can we sign a property report?

Once a possible home has been found, it is your duty to check it out completely. You should never rely on the landlord to disclose or assure you that the property is in 100% working order. Your agent should be able to assist you with a checklist to use when inspecting the property.  Your checklist should include and sign off: kitchen appliances in working order, water pressure strong, plumbing without leaks, all facets working, (poor plumbing in Macau apartments is notorious), electrical outlets working, walls and ceiling painted or papered without cracks or signs of mould, air conditioning working and all remotes provided, floors and bathrooms in good repair, windows and doors operable and weather-tight (typhoons can be tough on seals!) If the property is furnished, check and write down condition of all furniture.

Can the walls be painted, fixtures changed/removed?

In most cases, owners are flexible about this, but make sure you do check in advance and ascertain what is required at the end of the lease i.e. will they insist you make good the colour of the wall again, or are they happy to leave the walls your chosen colours? Remember that taste is subjective, be warned about going out and spending dollars on things that you consider an improvement and expect your landlord to agree with you – in most cases, you are unlikely to agree!

Categories Macau