Cans and Cannots While Renting
Basically, you should feel free to do whatever you want in your rental home, and the landlord should not be monitoring you obsessively. The main issues are that:
The above is generally spelled out in the lease.
Holes in Wall for Hanging Pictures or TVs
Hanging pictures on the wall is reasonable, but you should discuss this with the landlord because one of the most common issues at the end of a lease is the holes in the walls which stand out, or the tenant's plaster job to fill a hole (sometimes sloppy).
Some people have created holes in a crude way which starts a crack or makes a big chip, such as trying to hammer a nail of some size into a cement wall. It's a simple matter to bring in somebody with a proper drill and the right sort of bit to make all the holes you need and which are of an appropriate size, as well as mounting items. Many landlords are willing to send in their own technician who they have confidence in, whereby the tenant can get all the holes they want (within reason).
When moving out, I suggest you talk with the landlord first about whether it is expected that you will plaster the holes closed and touch up the paint. The landlord may just offer the same holes to the next tenant and plaster and touch up those they don't want. Depending on how long you stay, the place may need repainting anyway.
Some buildings have a policy of a 100 baht charge per neat hole, though some have a much higher figure per hole.
Holes in the wall have been one of the things which stand out during a walkthru after the tenant has vacated and in the list of damages which some landlords may want to deduct costs from the deposit. Therefore, we try to deal with these issues in advance of signing the lease.
Late Rent Payment
For various reasons, sometimes a tenant will be late paying rent. (It seems we've heard all the reasons in the book ... but I shall not write that book here!)
If you are late paying rent, then technically you are in violation of your lease.
Most landlords will not be too upset if you have a good relationship with them and a good reason, but if it happens again, then it starts to become a bigger issue.
I would suggest that if you're ever late in paying rent, then the next time you can pay early. For example, if you're a week late this month, then be a week early next month. It just shows some appreciation and responsibility.
Landlord Neglects to Fix Things
The landlord would be in breach of the lease if they fail to promptly fix things according to the lease.
This is rare among the high class of properties we deal with. Also, we avoid landlords with a bad reputation, as it just becomes a headache for us, too, as well as a nagging conscience. Nobody likes "slumlords".
However, if something either isn't fixed promptly or not to a high enough standard, and progress seems to stall, then we, the agent, should perform a more active role in dealing with the issues and applying pressure if necessary. Often, the landlords simply don't know many technical things about properties. (We have our own technical guy who did many home repairs and installations before, but normally the landlord uses their own people, for better or worse.)
End of Lease
Normally, within 30 to 60 days of the end of your contract, you must inform the landlord of your intention to either renew the contract for another year, or enter an agreement to go month to month with both parties having the right to give notice, or else announce your plan to vacate the premises.
You should not just vacate the premises without any notice. Don't forget the notice clause in your lease.
Immediately after you vacate the premises, the agent normally will meet with the landlord and tenant to walk thru the premises looking for any damages beyond normal wear and tear, and to reach mutual agreement about any issues.
Bills in the landlord's name, such as electricity and water (which cannot be switch to a foreign tenant's name), must be settled by contacting the utility companies to get a read of the meters on the date you move out.
After all bills are cleared, and all issues resolved, then the landlord returns the deposit.
Return of Deposit
It is very rare that a landlord does not return a deposit, when an agent is involved. There are many cases where a landlord has not returned some or all of a deposit when the landlord did not use an agent (and I was a victim of that early in my Bangkok experience when I did not use an agent and found a house on my own by a For Rent sign).
First of all, landlords who use agents (which is the vast majority of landlords in the middle and upper parts of the market) are normally professional in their dealings. Secondly, agents are third party arbitrators and can apply social pressure. Thirdly, landlords who are problematic get blacklisted, which leads to them losing money when agents don't find a new tenant. Landlords who are blacklisted or greedy tend to try to find renters directly without an agent.
(Landlords who use agents get their properties rented more quickly. For every month their property is empty, they lose that much money ... so that the agent's commission quickly pays for itself in extra rent collected. Landlords depend on agents and their reputation.)
In most cases, the deposit is returned in full.
We've had many cases where estimates of damages due to tenant negligence were negotiated, such as damage to furniture from pets or jealous Thai girlfriends, windows left open during a rain storm, and so on.
However, "normal wear and tear" are not deducted from the deposit, as stated in a normal lease.
The deposit is normally returned directly from the landlord to the tenant, and the agent is kept up to date on the status.
It is extremely rare that a deposit is not returned (and the same applies to agent commission, whereby when there's one problem, there's often both), but it does happen on occasion, and there is a blacklist of landlords which is passed around by agencies (at least, between some of us expat agencies) and people in the grapevine in those communities.
We have various ways of applying social pressure, both privately and more publicly, for return of deposits.
As a last resort, you can take the landlord to court. Whether it's worth the time and expense, however, depends upon the total amount of the deposit.
Agreements are a matter of personal honor, integrity, and moral class, which tells a lot about the kind of person somebody is. However, the world has all types -- good, evil, and in between. Most people have enough pride to be an honorable kind of person.
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