What are the rights and obligations of the landlord and the tenant?

Have you entered into a lease agreement and don’t know what your exact obligations are under it? We can advise you on whether you can keep an animal in the apartment and bring visitors if the contract forbids you to do so. We will also explain who pays for repairs to the flat and what to do if the flat is damaged.

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Chapters of the article

Making the apartment accessible

The landlord should first of all make the apartment available to the tenant, which is usually done on a date agreed by the parties in the contract. If no such date is specified, then it is the first day of the month following the month in which the contract takes effect. In practice, access to the flat is usually by handing over the keys to the house and flat, or by arranging other means of access (e.g. house code, chip, etc.).

Living and working or doing business in the apartment

Allowing the use of the flat is another of the landlord’s obligations, but at the same time ‘proper use’is also a basic obligation of the tenant. The law specifically talks about proper use in accordance with the lease agreement. The contract may expressly stipulate what is meant by proper use.

The primary purpose of the lease is to live in the apartment. However, work and business cannot be excluded, which has recently become a very topical and desirable option. The tenant can therefore not only set up a residence at the address of the house or flat, but also carry out the work from home. Typically, this may be an office activity, but one can imagine any activity that does not place an increased burden on the apartment or house and its other occupants. Conversely, for example, craft activities involving loud drilling and banging every day would certainly not fit into this category.

Tip: Don’t forget to get energy labels when renting a flat.

Payment of rent

The tenant’s primary obligation is the payment of rent. This should be specified in detail in the lease agreement, but a similar service can also be provided by the so-called registration sheet, which can be an annex to the agreement. It shows the breakdown of the rent, the advance payments for services provided and the breakdown of the services themselves and serves as a prescription for the advance payments. Rent is usually paid for a period of one month in advance, no later than the 5th day of the relevant payment period.

Tip: We have discussed rent and rent payments in detail in the article Rent contract: all about rent.

Prohibition of keeping animals and restriction of stay of foreign persons

Landlords like to insert clauses in lease agreements banning pets, limiting the number of people in the apartment or other things they should not allow. Their motivation is obvious: they want to protect their property as much as possible and save money. However, it is up to the tenant to accept such prohibitions. The bottom line is that the tenant has the right under the law to keep animals in the apartment, even if the contract expressly forbids it. However, the breeding should respect the house rules and should certainly not interfere with the coexistence with other neighbours.

Similarly, visits to the flat cannot be prohibited by the tenancy agreement. Of course, the landlord has the right to know how many people will permanently live in the apartment, or to reserve the right to accept other residents (this does not apply to close relatives). On the other hand, the tenant is obliged to report any increase in the number of persons living in the apartment. However, these obligations do not apply to short-term visits, which cannot be restricted in this way. If there is any doubt as to whether or not the person is a visitor, the length of stay and whether the person has another apartment in which he or she lives would probably be decisive.

Get the rights and obligations in the contract right

By drawing up a good lease agreement and adjusting your rights and obligations appropriately, you will save yourself most of the problems, whether as a landlord or a tenant. We will draw up or check the lease agreement, or advise on drawing up an amendment to the agreement or terminating the lease. We will handle everything quickly and flawlessly.

Maintenance and repairs in a rental apartment

The tenant and the landlord share the maintenance of the apartment to some extent. The tenant is responsible for arranging and paying for routine maintenance and minor repairs in the apartment. This mainly means regular cleaning, cleaning and maintaining appliances, checking the thermostatic controls, checking and maintaining taps and water spouts, and repairing doors and windows. This may include other repairs in the apartment, the cost of which does not exceed CZK 1,000.

The landlord is legally obliged to keep the flat (or house) in a fit state for use for the duration of the tenancy. This would include, in particular, the provision of basic necessities such as water, heat, etc. They should also pay for major repairs to the flat that cost more than CZK 1,000. In addition, he should ensure that any equipment that is part of the flat and is not working is replaced and he is also responsible for the cost of repairing defects that make the flat unusable.

However, the category of routine maintenance would also include, for example, plaster repair, painting and wallpapering, activities that not only cost more money but both parties may also have different ideas about how to carry them out. It is therefore both desirable and practical to specify these obligations in the lease. For example, the landlord may leave the frequency of painting and the colour of the walls to the tenant’s discretion, but require that the walls of the apartment be restored to their original condition before the lease is terminated. Another option is to agree on the frequency and average cost of painting.

What to do in case of more serious defects or damage in the apartment?

As mentioned above, minor repairs in a rented apartment should be arranged by the tenant. But what should you do if there is an accident or other serious damage to the flat? As soon as the tenant discovers a major defect in the apartment, he should first of all inform the landlord immediately. At the same time, he or she should also do everything possible to prevent the damage from increasing. He should therefore take active steps to prevent further damage. If he has incurred any costs in doing so, he is entitled to compensation or a reduction in the rent. However, a discount or reimbursement of costs cannot be legitimately claimed if the tenant himself caused the damage. Subsequently, the landlord should remedy the defect within a reasonable time after notification. If this does not happen, the tenant may remedy it and similarly claim reasonable costs.

Changes and alterations to the flat

Particularly in the case of long-term housing, tenants may need to change and alter many things in the flat. This can range from adding a picture or shelf to the wall to replacing the kitchen units. What are their rights in this respect and can any changes to the apartment be prevented?

The scope of possible changes to the apartment can also be regulated by the lease agreement. In general, however, if the tenant plans changes, he or she should inform the landlord of the changes and the landlord should agree to them. Unless they agree otherwise, the tenant should restore the apartment to its original condition at the end of the tenancy. If the landlord is pushing for the changes, mutual agreement is also essential. However, in the absence of such agreement, the tenant is obliged to tolerate the alteration of the flat, provided that it does not reduce the value of the dwelling and does not substantially restrict the tenant’s use of the flat.

Transfer of lease and change of owner of the apartment

There are some uncertainties regarding the possible transfer of the lease. This is the situation where there is the death of the sole tenant of the flat with whom another person who does not own the flat was living in the household at the time of death. The transfer of the tenancy to that person may occur if they are a spouse, partner (same or different sex), parent, sibling, son-in-law or daughter-in-law, child or grandchild. In the case of other persons, the tenancy passes if the landlord agrees to the transfer. If more than one person meets the conditions for the transfer of the lease, they become joint tenants. The onus is on these persons to prove, if necessary, that they lived in permanent community with the original tenant. This can be done, for example, through the testimony of neighbours, etc.

However, after the transfer of the lease, the lease period usually changes from an indefinite to a fixed term. According to the law, the new tenancy is limited to a period of two years from the death of the tenant. Such a limitation does not apply only if the person to whom the lease has been transferred has reached the age of 70 at the time of the transfer of the lease. Similarly, the time limitation does not apply if the person to whom the tenancy has passed has not reached the age of 18 at the time of the transfer of the tenancy. In that case, the tenancy shall end no later than the date on which the person reaches the age of 20. It is good to know that fixed-term tenancies have specific rules.

There may also be changes on the part of the landlord, most often when the apartment is sold. However, tenants do not have to worry about the lease being terminated by a change of ownership. On the contrary, the basic rule is that the new owner enters into the original tenancy with all the rights and obligations that have been previously agreed. Any debts that the parties have to each other up to the time of the change of ownership can continue to be asserted. The new owner may terminate the lease for the same reasons as the previous owner. However, a change of ownership of the property is not such a reason in itself.

Tip: We have devoted a separate article to the sale of an apartment or, from the opposite point of view , the purchase of an apartment with a tenant.

Protection of rights under the lease

Tenants are protected under a number of provisions of the law that limit the contractual freedom of the landlord. These protections include, for example, the aforementioned invalidity of the prohibition on keeping animals or bringing visitors, as well as specific protection for tenants when terminating a lease by notice. Nevertheless, tenants remain the weaker link in the contractual framework and various tenants’ associations have been set up to protect their interests. However, similar associations also exist on the landlord and building owner side.

These types of associations are primarily concerned with promoting the interests of the persons they represent at global level, in particular in advocating legislative changes. However, it is always the case that in individual cases of breaches of tenancy rights, whether on the part of the tenant or the landlord, it is ideal to consult a lawyer who can suggest a specific course of action.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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