Handing over the flat
The flat is usually handed over on the day stated in the agreement. If the contract doesn’t specify a particular date, then the transfer is on the first day of the month following the contract’s coming into force. The flat is usually made accessible by handing over the building and flat keys, or by enabling entry by other means (a code, a chip, etc.).
Living versus working or conducting business in the flat
The landlord is obligated to properly allow for the flat use. On the other hand, “to use the flat in a regular way” is among the chief obligations of the tenant as well. The law explicitly states that the property is to be used in a regular way and in accord with the terms of the lease. You can therefore define the exact meaning of the aforementioned phrase in your agreement.
Occupying the flat represents the chief purpose of the lease. However, working or conducting business can’t be excluded from the possible purposes. This has become a hot topic during the covid pandemic. Not only may the tenant place their headquarters at the house or flat address, but they’re also allowed to conduct their work from home. Typically, this will comprise office work, but may extend to any activity that doesn’t put the flat, the building or its occupants under excessive strain. On the contrary, this definitely excludes, for example, the use of power tools or any other noisy activities.
The rent and its payment
To pay the rent is among the tenant’s basic obligations. The lease agreement should list any and all rent payment conditions. Alternatively, these can be specified in the so-called “evidenční list,” which is an appendix to the contract that specifies the individual items paid – advances for the services as well as the services themselves in detail, the rent itself, (i.e., the sum representing the landlord’s profit), etc. The rent is usually paid in advance each month, no later than on the 5th day of a particular payment period.
Pets and third persons using the flat
Landlords are keen to add into their contracts clauses banning pets, restricting the number of persons using the flat, and so on. However, this is illegal. Quite understandably, they aim to protect their property and to prevent the usual wear and tear as much as possible. However, it is entirely up to the tenant whether or not they’ll respect such restrictions. The law allows tenants to keep pets in a rented flat even if the contract explicitly forbids this. Of course, they must respect the house rules and shouldn’t in any way disturb their neighbours.
Likewise, the landlord may not prohibit visitors. Of course, they’re entitled to know the number of persons occupying the flat in the long term or to reserve the right of refusal to any additional permanent residents (with the exception of close relatives). The tenant, on the other hand, must notify the landlord of any additional persons occupying the flat. Such obligations, however, don’t apply to short visits, which can’t be restricted. If doubts arise whether a particular person can still be deemed a visitor or has already become an occupant, two factors are usually considered: the length of their stay and their lack of their own place of residence.
Specify your rights and obligations properly within the lease
Whether you’re the lessor or tenant, a well-drafted contract can save you many a problem. We’ll check or draft a lease for you. We’ll also offer advice on drafting an appendix to your lease or terminating it. Our work is quick and precise.
Maintenance and repairs
Both the landlord and tenant share these responsibilities to a certain extent. The tenant is to perform and pay for common maintenance and minor modifications, including especially regular cleaning, the cleaning and maintenance of appliances, the inspection of the heating valves, the inspection and maintenance of water taps and drains, or the repair of doors and windows. Other minor repairs can also fall into this category, provided their cost doesn’t exceed 1,000 crowns.
The landlord is bound to keep the flat (or house) in a usable condition for the whole period of the lease. This includes ensuring basic requirements, such as services, are met. The landlord should also pay for any major repairs, i.e., those that cost more than 1,000 crowns, replace defunct flat equipment that came with the flat, and pay for the correction of such faults that make the flat uninhabitable.
Plaster repair, painting and wallpapering all represent a problematic area of common maintenance, as such work isn’t only costly, but both parties may also have different opinions on how it should be done. That’s why the lease should be specific as to these activities. For instance, the landlord can leave them up to the tenant but demand that the tenant return the flat to its original state before the lease is terminated, or both parties may negotiate the frequency and cost of painting, and so on.
Breakdowns and major defects
As mentioned, minor repairs should be carried out by the tenant. But what to do in case of a breakdown or a serious accident? First and foremost, the tenant should notify their landlord of any major fault at the moment of discovery. At the same time, they should do their best to prevent the damage from spreading, that is, to take action themselves. If that requires spending some money, they’re entitled to a reimbursement or a discount from the rent unless they’ve caused the damage themselves. Subsequently, the landlord should correct the fault within a reasonable time frame. If the landlord does not do so, the tenant is entitled to correct the fault themselves. And again, they’re entitled to have any legitimate costs reimbursed.
Changes and modifications to the flat
Especially when renting a flat for an extended period of time, the tenants might desire to customize it. This can be as little as screwing a new bookshelf to the wall or as much as replacing a whole kitchen unit. What are their rights in this regard, and may the landlord prohibit them from undertaking such changes?
The scope of the changes a tenant may make in the flat can also be defined in the lease agreement. In general, if the tenant is planning any changes, they should seek the approval of the landlord. Unless agreed upon otherwise, the tenant should return the flat to its original state before the contract is ended. Likewise, mutual agreement should come first when it is the landlord who’s planning the change. However, if an agreement can’t be reached, the tenant must tolerate the change in the flat as long as it doesn’t decrease its liveability.
Transfer of the lease and a new landlord
Sometimes the eventual transfer of the lease can cause questions to arise. A lease can be transferred when the exclusive lessee passes away and another propertyless person is sharing the flat with them at that time. The lease may be transferred to that person if they were in one of the following relationships with the deceased tenant: a wife or husband, a partner (of the same or opposite sex), a parent, a sibling, a son or daughter-in-law, a child or grandchild. The transfer to anyone else must meet with the approval of the landlord. If more than one person meets the aforesaid conditions for the transfer, all of them may share the tenancy. At this point, it is up to them to prove that they permanently shared the flat with the deceased tenant – for instance, they could ask their neighbours to testify.
With indeterminate term lease agreements, that term of lease is usually replaced by a fixed term when the contract is transferred. The law allows for a period no longer than two years from the day of the former tenant’s death. This limitation doesn’t apply in two cases:
- The person to whom the lease has been transferred is over 70 years old,
- The person to whom the lease has been transferred is under age 18. Here, the lease is terminated on the day of their 20th birthday.
Also, bear in mind that a fixed-term contract has its own specifics.
In a similar fashion, the landlord of a property can change as well. This is usually the case when the flat is sold. However, the tenants don’t have to fear immediate termination of their lease. Quite the contrary, the new owner generally enters into the original lease relationship exactly as this was previously negotiated in the contract and retains any and all of the former landlord’s rights and obligations. Any eventual debts existing at the time of the ownership change may still be claimed. The new landlord may end the contract upon the same conditions as the original owner. New ownership in itself doesn’t provide sufficient reason for ending the contract.
Protection of lease rights
The law protects tenants in several ways that limit lessors in what they may and may not include in a lease. We’ve already mentioned the ban on pets or accepting visits, as well as the specific protection of tenants regarding the notice of lease termination. Even so, tenants remain the weaker of the two contract parties. In an attempt to remedy this, various tenants’ associations have been founded to defend their interests. On the other hand, similar groups exist among lessors and property owners.
Both types of associations strive to advance their own interests on a broad scale, i.e., bring forth legislation changes. However, in case of rights infringement, whether on the side of the tenant or landlord, it is best to consult a solicitor who might suggest the particular steps to take.