In the last 3 months, circumstances have meant that I’ve signed 4 leases for accommodation in Honiara. After living in 3 of the 4 places, I am now settled for which I am grateful. The experience has taught me a lot, but given I may not need it for a while I thought it might help others. Some lessons learned follow:
Agents and Landlords
- Real estate agents and landlords often don’t read leases, so even though you may think that things have been discussed and agreed in the lease, it is not always the reality. This has happened to me, in two cases, the conditions appeared to be a surprise upon final signing and caused angst. In one case the real estate agent took my signature page and attached it to a different lease! Suggest check and reiterate assumptions again and again, in person, in email, on list, provide draft lease early.
- Agents don’t always respect the notice period required for accessing your house for inspections; I suggest you be specific about expectations, regardless of lease details – ie ‘please text me with at least 24 hours’ notice’.
- Most people know each other in Honiara. In one case, unbeknown to me, I had an agent lining up my replacement in a house, while I was looking for a new place which subsequently forced me out earlier than I would have hoped because…..
- Deals fall through. What you think has been agreed, sometimes isn’t.
- Agents do a thing called “inventory” where they go into the house and identify furniture and kitchen utensils etc which are part of the property – this is all good, except if your stuff is also in the house and the agent doesn’t co-ordinate with you. I kept a separate list of everything – mine and the landlord’s and the condition of things when I arrived, including the lights, locks etc. This can be provided to the agent to streamline this process. In the two cases this happened to me, the agents have been grateful for the information.
- Typically you need to pay one month’s rent and a one month’s rent equivalent bond – negotiate if more is requested.
Utilities and household
- You should look at the following in your costing
- Security – 24 hours
- Electricity – prepaid Gas Power etc
- Make sure there is a back up generator for power outages – diesel is more practical than solar as solar would need to have a battery array for the evenings and cloudy days
- TV, phone, internet connections and usage
- House mere
- Establishing TV and wifi can be a painful process; be patient and make sure your costings start from WHEN IT IS WORKING….not when you first start talking about it with the providers who may take a while to establish the systems. The wifi and TV control boxes apparently belong to the subscriber and if you are new you may have to buy a new one which can be expensive. I negotiated to sell my current one back to provider when I leave.
- Things that are typically missing in a place are – reasonable linen and pillows, good kitchen gear, a full set of keys, bedside lamps. Check before you move in and accommodate in planning for the move.