18 Essential Things to Check Before Signing a Lease in Thailand
Buying real estate or a car aside, signing a long-term lease might be the biggest contractual commitment you make during your stay in Thailand. Understandably, that can make you quite nervous. In order to help you spot some of the more common issues you might encounter, I’ve put together a check list you can go over when taking a look at a new place.
- Switch the A/C to full power to check how loud it is. This can be an issue with older units.
- Make sure the temperature setting works correctly. You can set the temperature between two rooms two degrees apart and will quickly notice the difference.
- Ask when the A/C was last cleaned. Usually they should be cleaned every 6 months.
Electricity, Phone and Internet
- Test your mobile phone to ensure proper reception in all rooms. My first apartment was on the 36th floor and mobile reception was a bit spotty when I first moved in. I didn’t notice that until I had signed the contract already.
- Confirm that you are able to get your own phone and internet lines. The ones provided by the building might be slow or not work with all the applications you need.
- Ensure there are sufficient and conveniently located power outlets. For some reason, lack of or oddly placed power outlets are a common theme in condos in Thailand.
- Decide if it’s important that you can sublet your apartment while away. If you do so without the permission of your landlord, they might be able to kick you out and keep your deposit for contract violation. Section 544 of the Civil and Commercial Code states that sub-letting is not allowed unless it has been allowed within the lease agreement, so strictly speaking you need to have this specifically included if it’s important to you.
- Make sure all the lights are working. Not a major expense, but often there’s something broken and it’s convenient to have them replaced before you move in.
- Check for termites. If there’s what looks like tiny powder piles below furniture or wooden fixtures or small holes in wood, this could mean that that there was or is a termite problem. It can even occur on the fifth floor of an inner city apartment building. A previous landlord of mine had to hire a specialized pest control company and they didn’t come cheap.
- Take extensive pictures of all parts. In case there’s a dispute later on about pre-existing damage, this will come in handy.
- Look around for mold. Is there mold on the ceiling? Sometimes this can be left-over from previous water damage. It’s not very common, but it does happen. Not good for your lungs.
- Check if the pool is clear and free of leaves. Bad pool maintenance is a sign of potential other problems with the building or a lack of maintenance funds.
- Switch on the sauna in the common area. It’s the first thing that apartments stop repairing when they need to cut corners.
- Confirm the opening hours of the gym, pool and sauna. If they close too early, you might not have much chance to use them.
- Take a look around the hallways to see if apartments have shoes, items or garbage in front of them. Nearly all condo buildings disallow this. Seeing that it’s not enforced can indicate a lackluster or negligent administration.
Service and Administration Fees
- Who pays the service charge of the apartment building? On average that’s THB 30 to THB 50 per square meter. If it’s not the landlord, then that’s the amount that your rent increases.
- Ask if electricity is charged directly by the electricity authority. If not, what’s the rate and how much did previous tenants pay on average each month?
- Who pays for A/C maintenance? Usually the units should get cleaned by professionals every six months, the cost of which is usually between THB 300 and THB 600.
Keeping Things in Perspective
Sometimes it’s a good idea to live a bit below your means. Not only does it help you save up some money, but it results in less headaches when moving out and there’s an issue with the deposit. My rent accounts for about 20% of my total expenses each month. One reason I try to keep it low is so the deposit that stays with the landlord is not something that’ll hurt too much in case it gets withheld after I move out.
In the end, you often get what you pay for. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a place that offers top facilities and location at a massive discount, so don’t expect all of the above items to get checked off if you are hunting for a budget deal. The list does make sure though you are aware of what you’re getting yourself into.
Guest post by Karsten Aicholz