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When you decide to rent a home or rent out property, ECHS European homes to rent provides this advisory page with a variety of tips relating to home rentals in Europe. Click on any of the following links that are of interest to you.

Renting out a home: TenantsDurationContracts

Renting a home: ContractsDisputesAccessConditionsCommunicationInsuranceSafetyEviction


Renting out a home.
Renting out one's unoccupied European home or property makes good business sense for most home owners, as one can generate a considerable amount of income, which can help in a number of ways, besides taking care of the home's maintenance expenditure. However, renting out property will create some problems for most of the home owners.

Tenants.
The perception of bad tenant behaviour is a reality and bad experiences of some European home owners will make you wary. Tenancy laws in most countries favouring tenants should make you become accustomed to your position and that of the tenant so a measured amount of caution is called for before you engage in a home rental.

If you desire a particular tenant, one should check out their background financially. Acquire information about their employer or business, in addition to whether they earn enough to pay the rental and additional costs. In the case of companies, check their record of accomplishment and reputation, what business do they do!

Duration.
It is advisable to rent out properties for a short duration. While big corporations may prefer a three to five year lease, private landlords should opt for the relative safety of an agreement, which ensures periodic renewal of the terms. An agreement of a minimum of six months is usually suitable.

Contracts.
The contract should be a formal one within the laws accepted in your country and you should enlist the services of a legal expert, if you feel this is necessary. Prepare a comprehensive agreement without any loopholes and in the agreement, include the following

  • Clauses specifying what the charges are (if the property is not vacated when the contract ends).
  • Specify that subletting be prohibited (under any circumstances, if you are not notified).
  • State the period of notice to be given, in case of termination of an agreement.

Even after all these preliminary steps, you should occasionally visit the property, to make sure the tenant uses the property for the agreed to specified purpose. At the time of vacating the premises by the tenant, ensure that the house is in proper condition and tenant has cleared all outstanding costs due, such as water, electricity, and other related fees. Return the security deposit only when you are certain that the conditions for vacating the property are satisfactory.

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Renting a home

Contracts.
Carefully review all of the conditions of the tenancy before you sign a contract. The rental agreement may contain a provision that you find unacceptable, for example, restrictions on guests, pets, design alterations, or running a home business. To gain an advantage over other applicants, when you meet the landlord, bring written references from previous landlords and a credit report from your bank and employer if you can. To protect yourself and avoid any misunderstandings, make sure your rental agreement is clear on the use and refund of security deposits, including allowable deductions. When you move in, do a survey of the property with the landlord to record existing damage to the property on a check list.

Disputes.
To avoid disputes or misunderstandings with your landlord, get everything in writing. Keep copies of any correspondence and follow up an oral agreement with a letter, setting out your understandings. For example, if you ask your landlord to make repairs, put your request in writing and keep a copy for yourself. If the landlord agrees orally, send a letter confirming this.

Access.
Next to disputes over rent or security deposits, one of the most common problems are over the landlord's right to enter the rental unit at an given time. Make sure you understand your privacy rights (for example, the amount of notice your landlord must provide before entering your home), it will be easier to protect them. 

Conditions.
Know your rights to live in a habitable rental unit and do not give them up! Housing laws in most European countries require landlords to offer their tenants liveable premises, this will include:

  • weatherproofing.
  • heat, water, and electricity.
  • clean, sanitary, and structurally safe premises.

If your rental unit is not kept in good repair, you have a number of options, ranging from withholding a portion of the rent, to paying for repairs and deducting the cost from your rent, to calling the building inspector (who may order the landlord to make repairs) and to moving out without liability for your future rent.

Communication.
Keep communication open with your landlord. If there is a problem, for example, if the landlord is slow to make repairs, talk it over to see if the issue can be resolved short of legal action.

Insurance.
Your landlord's insurance policy will not cover your losses due to theft or damage. Therefore, consider renters' insurance, which also covers you if someone who claims to have been injured in your rental unit, owing to your carelessness and sues you. Costs and conditions of renters' insurance vary in different European countries, so seek the advice of your bank or insurer.

Safety.
Determine whether your building and neighbourhood are safe, and what you can expect your landlord to do about it if they aren't. Get copies of any country or local laws that require safety practices such as security locks and fire safety standards. Investigate the property's vulnerability to potential criminals learn whether criminal incidents have already occurred on the property or nearby. If a crime is highly likely, your landlord may be obligated to take some steps to protect the building where the property is located.

Eviction.
If you have to vacate a property, involuntarily, with an eviction notice or that you feel the landlord is clearly is the wrong (for example, you haven't received proper notice or the premises have become uninhabitable), you may want to fight the eviction. However, unless you have the law and provable facts on your side, fighting an eviction notice can be short sighted. Consider that losing an action against eviction can leave you hundreds (even thousands) of Euro in debt and damage your ability to easily rent a home in the future.

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