Contracts are quite simply now a part of daily life. Whether it is for cars, loans, mortgages or getting a job there seems to be some form of binding agreement. But can you be sure that what you are signing is a fair agreement? Below are a few things to look out for in a contract to help make sure that you are getting what you expect without any nasty surprises!
Legally if you sign a contract it is assumed you have read it. However, if you are in a hurry to get a deal done (and let’s face it we have probably all done this at some point) you can miss important details. Always check carefully and if you’re not sure get someone else to look at it before signing on the dotted line.
Is it clear?
Do you understand what you are signing up for? Equally are the other party aware of their responsibilities? This is why it helps to get third parties to draw up and explain contracts, as it puts people on an equal footing and means there’s more chance of a contract that is beneficial to both parties.
A contract should indicate what you will provide and what the other party will provide. Without a mutual exchange (or one clearly specified) a contract is not technically valid. While this may sound simple, this is something that can in fact lead to grey areas (for example if you were buying a property that was a listed building you would need to check to see if you could make improvements and to check if there were any restrictions on that).
What are you expected to do? For example, if you sign a tenancy agreement and part of that agreement is you water the plants and those plants die you are in breach of that agreement. Therefore a landlord could potentially evict you on that basis, so always check what you are expected to do before signing to avoid future problems.
This can be vital – if you are in the process of buying a company you should check their background to see what you are getting into first. This means you can be aware of any financial issues or anything else that needs addressing. Sounds obvious but even experienced business people who earn millions have made this mistake!
Who is signing it?
Again this is something that sounds obvious – is the person signing the contract someone with the authority to do so and have their actions been approved? Always check this as this could prevent legal problems at a later date.
These are just a few examples of the considerations you have to make before signing a contract. This is not to say that people are bad and want to trip you up, more that it is better to use a representative who can go over what is in the contract and give you advice before you sign.
If you are in the process of buying a property, writing a will, buying a business, signing a tenancy agreement or any other proceedings that might require a contract contact us today to see how we can help.