Finding a good house or apartment to rent is hard work, but it gets even harder when language barriers and foreign laws are involved. There are a few things that every tenant, and especially an expat, should be careful about in order to have a pleasant and legal stay in Romania.
By Ruxandra Visoiu
- Can we skip the paperwork?
Renting a property should only be based on a written contract, signed by the landlord and the tenant, which contains all the rental conditions.
The contract should mention the identity of the parties, details about the location of the property, rights and obligations of the parties and conditions for terminating the lease. It is not mandatory to have it authorized by a notary or lawyer, but in all cases we strongly advise to have the contract in writing, not only based on a verbal agreement. It will be very helpful if anything goes wrong, such as the owner not making the necessary repairs or trying to terminate your lease before the agreed term.
- English, please?
One of the most important things that we advise our clients is to either have a bilingual contract, both in Romanian and English, or have a translator to help them understand the contract written in Romanian.
There are many cases when landlords or real estate agents rush tenants into signing all-Romanian contracts, without even understanding what they get themselves into. A contract is not even legally binding if a party did not understand what she signed – for example, if it was written in a language she doesn’t speak.
- Who’s signing?
Another important thing is making sure that the person who signs the contract as landlord is indeed the owner of the property or a proxy. Before signing the lease, the landlord should present the tenant some proof of ownership, such as copies of the deed. If the documents are signed by another person on behalf of the owner, the landlord should also present a power-of-attorney.
If the landlord refuses to offer such proof, it’s possible that he does not have the right to lease – for example, he is a tenant himself with no right to sub-lease, and the true owner could later evict the sub-tenant from the premises.
- What about ANAF?
According to the law, the landlord should register the rental contract with ANAF (Romanian Tax Authorities) and present the tenant a copy of the contract stamped by the authorities. While this is generally made just for tax purposes, registering the rental contract is an extra assurance for the tenant that all the documents are in order and the landlord had the legal capacity to lease the property.
- What’s in the apartment?
A property can be leased either furnished or unfurnished, fact that should be mentioned in the contract. If the property is furnished, we advise you to sign a short inventory of the goods rented along with the property, especially if some of them are not in good condition. Otherwise, the landlord could later declare that furniture was rented in perfect condition, even if they were damaged from the beginning, and refuse to return the tenant’s deposit. The deposit usually amounts to one month’s rent.
- Receipt, please?
The tenant should always receive proof of payment from the landlord when paying the rent. This protects the tenant from a possible bad-faith landlord, who could later say that the tenant missed payments and therefore ask him for additional costs or refuse to return the deposit.
If the payment is made by bank transfer, the tenant should make a clear payment description and mention the month for which the rent is paid, so the owner cannot later pretend that the tenant missed one or more payments on the way.
- Who pays for repairs?
One of the most frequent lease problems that clients call us for, besides assistance with drafting the rental contract itself, is asking what to do when something is damaged in the apartment. Who is responsible to pay for the repairs, the tenant or the landlord?
By law, general small repairs should be covered by the tenant, if they result from normal use of the home. For example, if a lightbulb has to be changed, the costs are normally covered by the tenant. But for major damage, such as a broken boiler, cracks in the wall or broken pipes, the tenant should immediately contact the landlord and ask him to pay for repairs
R&R Partners Bucharest is a boutique law firm specialized in immigration and commercial law