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LEASE CONTRACT : The obligations of the tenant and the owner

On 31/05/2017

Not only does the signature of a lease contract create rights for both lessor and tenant, it also imposes on these parties certain reciprocal obligations specified by law, which the parties can however agree to cancel, mitigate, or increase in the lease contract. The legal details with Elisabeth MACHADO, avocate à la cour [court lawyer].

Obligations of the tenant

The main obligation that is incumbent upon the tenant is naturally that of providing the deposit and paying the rent and advances on charges arising from the lease contract, on the due dates specified by the contract. It should be noted that, in principle, the lease contract provides for the supply of the deposit at the latest by the time of the signature of the lease contract, and payment of the rental and charges in advance for the month in question. Similarly, the tenant must have enjoyment of the premises while exercising all reasonable, usual care and forethought. In other words, “the tenant must insure the property and take care of it, ensure its day to day maintenance, and carry out small repairs as required”. A fortiori, the tenant must refrain from causing any deterioration or damage to the premises, and from all forms of incivilities that exceed the normal level of incommodities of the neighbourhood. “If major repairs are required, arising due to dilapidation, a fault, or a defect in the premises leased, the tenant must imperatively inform the lessor of this without delay, at the risk of their liability being invoked in the matter”. The tenant must also comply with the agreed purpose of the leased premises, and therefore also guard against carrying out conversion work that has not been authorised. Furthermore, the tenant must ensure that premises are furnished with sufficient furniture, “in order to enable the lessor to take possession of the furniture in the event of failure to fulfil a contractual obligation in respect of theirprivilege on moveable property”.Finally, at the end of the lease, the tenant must entirely vacate the premises and return them in the same condition as they were when initially occupied. They must assume responsibility for rentaldamage other than normal wear and tear, unless they can prove that they were not responsible for such damage.

Obligations of the lessor

The first obligation incumbent upon the lessor is to deliver accommodation in the true sense of the term, which presupposes not only that the premises are intended for accommodation use, but also that they are habitable. More substantively, “the accommodation must meet minimum conditions concerning dimensions, safety and security, and cleanliness, as well as being in a good general state of repair”. The lessor must also guarantee peaceful enjoyment of the premises for their lessee. “They cannot, from that moment, disturb the tenant in the leased premises, even in the event of non-payment of the rental. Inspection, which may only be carried out on an entirely exceptional basis, must be duly announced and agreed to by the tenant. In the case of disturbance caused by a third party, the lessor is not in principle responsible, “except in the case of a disturbance arising from a legal claim concerning the object of the lease, or disturbances caused by other of the lessor’s tenants in the same building.
Also part of their obligation to guarantee peaceful enjoyment, is the obligation on the part of the lessor to ensure that the accommodation remains free of any fault or defect that compromises or affects its normal use. “In this regard, the lessor must accept responsibility for all repairs, regardless of how significant they are, entailed by the requirement to bring the accommodation into conformity and preserve it, including those arising from the normal wear and tear of the accommodation”. In the case of an extreme emergency, the tenant must however tolerate the repair work without having any claim to compensation or reduction in rent, so long as the duration of the works being carried does not exceed forty days. The lessor must also justify charges made payable by the tenant, with supporting documentation supplied on request.
Finally, at the end of the lease, the lessor must of course return or release the deposit, so long as they cannot demonstrate any debt against the tenant due to non-execution or a failing in respect of an obligation on the tenant’s part.
In the case of violation by one of the parties of one of the obligations incumbent upon them, it falls to the injured party to bring the violation before the competent jurisdictions with a view to the other party being duly sanction for the failing (early termination, reduction or suspension of the rental, etc….) and to obtain compensation for the prejudice caused.

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