Aug 122014
 

Most foreigners who temporarily live in Lithuania do so in rental apartments. To be a tenant is easier than to be a lessor. However, apartment rent is rather unpopular among Lithuanians themselves and therefore less regulated by state than in many Western countries. Here are the legal issues you need to know when renting an apartment in Lithuania.

How to ensure you are not evicted?

An apartment rent contract must be written when it has a fixed term (e.g. „Rent for 1 year“) or you rent an apartment from a company. Otherwise, it may be unwritten. If there is no fixed term it means that the lessor may cancel the agreement any time by informing the tenant 6 months in advance.

It is common that the lessors do not want to sign any written agreement as they avoid taxes. Tenants in such apartments risk being evicted even if it was agreed otherwise. It may happen that the lessor will deny altogether that he/she rented an apartment. Of course, such scams are rare, but a written contract largely prevents them. Therefore signing a contract is good even when it is not necessary (but it may mean a slightly more expensive rent).

However, even if the apartment rent contract is signed it may be so that the tenant will be evicted. This can happen if the lessor will transfer (sell or gift) the apartment to somebody else. The new owner may then evict the tenant and tenant‘s rights would be limited to demanding compensation from the previous owner if the contract was breached.

However, if the apartment rent contract is registered in the Real Estate Registry of Lithuania then it will be impossible for the new owner to evict the tenant so easily. The contract registration costs money however and a tenant will likely have to pay for it.

Eviction is also possible when the tenant breaches the contract and/or harms the apartment.

What should be written in an apartment rent contract?

Lithuanian apartment rent contract is required by law to have at least the following things mentioned: address, the number of rooms, the rights to shared rooms, rental price and terms to pay it, additional price to be paid for utilities (usually dependent on true usage).
In Lithuania many apartment buildings have their own Community established and the articles of incorporation of such Community should be given to a tenant (they will be Lithuanian-only however).

Some clauses are not required to be specified in the contract but if they are not specified then clauses described in law will hold. For example, if the contract does not specify when to pay for apartment rent the tenant has to pay until the 20th day of every month.

Illegal clauses in apartment rent contract

It is assumed that tenant is „the weaker part“ of the contract and the following clauses are banned:

a)Tenant‘s responsibility without guilt (e.g. that the tenant has to compensate damage if the apartment will burn in a fire started by neighbors) or a responsibility larger than true damage (e.g. „ the tenant clogs the toilet he would not only have to unclog it but also pay a fine“).
b)Lessor‘s right to unilaterally change the terms of the contract (e.g. „the lessor has a right to raise the rental price at any time“) or a lessor‘s right to unilaterally decide that the apartment is liveable (e.g. after a fire).
c)Altering tenant‘s rights based on his family size if the apartment is large enough (e.g. „the contract ends in case the tenant has another child“).
d)Removing tenant‘s ability to choose where to buy things/services (e.g. „tenant must use only IKEA furniture“).
e)Requiring the tenant to pay for entire rent after being late once.

Moreover, while it is permitted to rent rooms of the same apartment separately it is not permitted to rent a room that must be passed to reach another tenant‘s room or to rent a non-residential room (WC, kitchen) separately.

Responsibility

The tenant (and his/her family members) are responsible for the damage they do (or the people they let inside do) but are not responsible for the damages from elsewhere (e.g. done by neighbors).

Who could live in a rented apartment?

The tenant may invite other temporary residents to the rental flat only when the lessor agrees.

The leased apartment may be subleased only with a permission as well.

When the rental contract ends all the people who lived there loses their right to do that.

When the contract ends

If the ending date of the contract has been agreed upon the contract ends up on that date if either tenant or lessor wishes so. If nobody wishes that the contract continues to be in power the same way as if it would be signed without specifying the term.

The rental conditions may be changed by lessor when the term ends. However, the new conditions must be first offered to the existing tenant and only if he/she refuses could they be offered to someone else.

If the contract end term has not been specified the contract ends after the lessor writes a termination letter to the tenant. However, this letter must be written not earlier than 6 months before the termination date.

The tenant is always able to cancel the rental agreement by informing the lessor 1 months in advance (regardless of whether the ending term has been specified). He/she may also retract the termination letter if he/she changes his/her mind however if the lessor would have already agreed to rent the apartment to someone else such retraction would not work.

It is harder for the lessor to cancel the apartment rent contract. He/she may only do so if the tenant fails to pay the rental fee for 3 months, fails to pay for utilities, damages the apartment or misuses it (e.g. uses it for business).

The tenant must return the apartment as he received it.

If he made something worse (e.g. damaged the walls) then the tenant must repair or compensate the damage.

If the tenant improved the apartment he could take back the improvements after the apartment rent contract ends if these improvements can be taken away. Otherwise, the improvements become a property of lessor and only if the lessor agreed to make such improvements he/she would be obliged to compensate the tenant. For example, the tenant may easily remove a new lamp he bought (and place back the old lessor‘s lamp) but he may not be able to get any compensation for the wall paint.

Augustinas Žemaitis

Apartment rent contracts drafting and legal checking.
Prices start at 100 EUR

E-mail: augustinas.zemaitis@gmail.com

  38 Responses to “Apartment rent contracts in Lithuania”

  1. Hello, do you know if it’s légal to put in the contract , interest fees for late in the payment for the month rent?

    And if Yes, in which condition we can apply it?

    Thank you

    • Definitely, this is possible and legal. It can be applied in case the lesee fails to pay the rent on time (from the very next day of such lateness).

      • Hi, can I find rent apartment one or two room EUR 100 month include all bills in Vilnius or in Kaunas for long time,thanks.

  2. Hi, is it possible for a tenant that wants to break the contract to pay for the last 2 months he will be in the apartment, by using the deposit? The lessor would use the deposit and the tenant would just pay for the bills until the end, in this case.

  3. Is it possible for tenant to break the contract and use the deposit for repairs of damages instead of actually have to repair themselves?

    • If you mean damages to the apartment – they can be usually compensated either by a repair work or by money that could pay for such a repair work. If the damages cost more to repair than the deposit, however, then you’d have to pay additionally so that the total sum of the money you paid in addition to the regular rental and other fees would cover the cost of damage repairs (including the cost of hiring a person to do those repairs, if you won’t do them yourself).

      This is assuming we speak of a typical apartment rent contract. There may be many different rental contracts, and the exact outcome depends on the contract.

  4. Hi, if my flatmate brings friends over, is it possible for me, a legal tenant, to call the police and ask them to leave as it’s a small flat. Thanks in advance.

  5. Hello Augustinas

    What is agreement for living space in Lithuania, a requirement by migration department to register EU and non EU nationals as Lithuanian residents.
    Is it a separate document to a rental agreement? What a tenant has to do and moreover what does an owner need to do. Many thanks Indre

    • The owner has to go to the Department and give his/her consent that a person who seeks a Lithuanian residence permit would declare his site of living at the apartment in question. You should also bring the rental agreement just in case, but it is not enough if there is no possibility to declare the person’s site of living at the apartment, and this declaration needs a separate consent of the owner.

      • Thank you Augustinas, you are correct. And, I found out it can be done in three ways: –
        1. The owner can go to the migration department and sign a form there.
        2. Owner can go to the notary and sign the declaration of living space form and give original copy to the tenant which along with the original rent agreement needs submission at migration centre.
        3. If the property is registered at the Lithuanian Register Centre than take the original rent agreement to the migration centre for submission.

        Most of the owners chose the first option unless they have their property registered than the third option.

        Imp. You only need the above if you are applying for a temporary or permanent residence permit in Lithuania.

  6. Hello Augustinas, I’m considering renting a property but the owners are only willing to register my own residency there (for residence permit), but not that of my small children who will live with me (they are asking me to register them as if they lived with family members elsewhere). I’m not willing to do this but I don’t understand their “angle” for this (they say safety reasons). Any idea why they might be asking this? What advantage would they obtain?

    • In Lithuanian law, it is very difficult to evict families with children, even if they don’t pay the rent, for example (the process is more difficult than for families without children). So I think this is the reason.

  7. HI HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE FOR THE LEASE AGREEMENT TO BE READY

  8. is it legal to rent an apartment in lithuania, with a contract without having a residence permit or visa to lithuania?

    • It is legal. However, you must be in Lithuania legally: that is, in order to be in Lithuania without a visa, you need to have a citizenship of a country whose citizens are allowed to be in Lithuania without a visa. And you must not stay in Lithuania (in a rental apartment or not) longer than you are allowed to stay without a visa.

  9. Hi, where can I find a list of countries from which the tenant is required to register in the apartment? As far as I understood, the EU citizents are exempt from this obligation. However, what concerns tenants from Israel, for instance, remains unclear.

    • European Union citizens are exempt because there is so-called free movement of people within the EU, so EU citizens can move into Lithuania without a Lithuanian residence permit. Whoever needs a residence permit in Lithuania (and this includes citizens of Israel) needs to register in an apartment in Lithuania in order to get such a permit.

      • So does that mean the original rental agreement in Lithuanian language would not be enough? Because what my workplace’s HR is telling me that EITHER the agreement EITHER notary EITHER the place of residence of declaration form.

  10. Hi there, I’m sure this has been covered somehwere but I’m hoping for some clarification. What are the responsibilities of the landlord concerning maintenance e.g. lift services, gardening etc..? Thanks for you time.

    • The landlord is responsible for the general maintenance of the building (e.g. floor, roof), but not maintenance such as cleaning, unless otherwise specified.

      If you rent a house with a garden, then you are responsible for the gardening.

      If you rent an apartment in an apartment block, in that case most of the responsibilities for the building itself will actually fall not on the landlord (who will likely just have a single apartment himself) but rather the apartment house community (an organization established just for that and allowed to tax those who own the apartments for its services). In case the apartments are rented out, typically, it is the tenants who pay such taxes unless agreed otherwise.

  11. Hi, I have a question: is it legal for the lessor to decide not to return the whole deposit if the tenant leaves before a certain amount of time (let’s say one year)?

  12. Hello I have rented an apartment for almost a month now and the dishwasher did not work from the beginning. The dishwasher is now away and being repaired and is suppose to be reinstalled in a week from now. I have signed a 1 year lease and this is a brand new unit along with brand new appliances. Is there any obligation from the lessor? The dishwasher is listed in the lease.

    TIA

    • If it is listed in the lease, it should work indeed. You are responsible if it would be broken because of your damage, however, if it was broken initially, then it is lessor’s responsibility.

  13. Hello, this is the best help I could get. I was wondering if you could tell from which law I should base my answer to my landlord : she didn’t give me a new agreement a few months ago, so I will go with what you said regarding when to say goodbye, but I want to use the name of the law (article Nth, clause humptheenth)
    Thanks in advance for this great piece of explanation 🙂

    • If you mean the right of a tenant to terminate a rental contract, it is Civil Code article 6.609 clause 1. Translation: “A tenant has a right to terminate the rental contract [of a residential home] by informing the lessor 1 month in advance. In case he/she fails to inform the lessor, the lessor is entitled to compensation of any damages incurred [because of this]”.

  14. I’m not sure where to find more info on this. What are the laws that govern construction on the rental unit during our stay or misinformation about the start of it? Our landlord misinformed us that construction on our unit’s roof will start near the end of the contract. It has started 3 months early without our prior knowledge. We were also not aware of the construction happening beside our unit that’s very intrusive to our life: loud noise, cold, paint chips from our walls falling. What can we as tenants do about this?

    • There are various possibilities:
      *If it is impossible to live in your premises, the owner may need to provide new premises or compensate for this. However, if the repairs are happening in the daytime for example, this is unlikely.
      *If the premises are now of lower quality due to that and you would not have rented them for this price had you know it, you may tell the landlord this and demand a reduction of price. Should he refuse, you may go to court. Yet again though, it depends on court and exact nuisances whether you’d succeed.
      *The easiest is just to terminate the contract and find a new apartment, or do so after the landlord refuses to lower the price.

      Also, if you live in an apartment block and it is not the landlord himself that does the repairs, it may be so that he is not responsible – may he was not notified himself.

      In general, unlike in the West, tenant rights are less protected in Lithuania in practice, mostly because 92%+ of Lithuanians own their apartments and rental is generally just a short term solution (i.e. there is almost no one in Lithuania who would plan to live in a rental apartment for a long time, except for the students maybe but they still live just a few years and may also change apartments every year). The typical solution of such problems in Lithuania is not to go to the court but rather to demand a reduction in price and, should the owner disagree, simply terminate the rent agreement (the tenant can terminate anytime notifying 1 month in advance, although under some circumstances immediate termination may also be possible, e.g. if it is impossible to live there). Simply, the court cases are too much of a hassle, there is usually too little money involved, and the precedents are too unclear, while somebody who loses the case has to compensate attorney fees for the opponent.

  15. Hi, I have a question, is it a common practice in Lithuania to charge an extra month rent as penalty( to be paid within 10 days of given the regular 2 month notice of termination). As a tenant it sound as a penalty for terminating the contract ahead of the expiration date, inspite of the notice.

    • It is a common practice, although its legality may be disputed. In general, however, many rental agreements in Lithuania are either unsigned or rather abstract contracts are signed. The way it is usually done is simply that a tenant pays “up front” and loses what he paid in case of termination (in theory, he may dispute that in court, but it is understandable that few would go to court for such sums of money). Tenant rights are usually not important in Lithuania even to the tenants themselves, as they often rent for some specific purpose temporarily (e.g. while studying and only for 9 months), whereas those who live for a longer time typically buy an apartment. So, unlike in some Western societies, the lessor-tenant relationship is often seen in Lithuania by society as a purely commercial one, even if an apartment is rented. That said, the law provides additional benefits for tenants who rent apartments over tenants who rent commercial space, including easier termination of the rental contract, etc.

  16. Hello, I wanted to ask if there is a special “crisis” law due to the corona pandemic to extend rental agreements. So if your rental contract is expiring (not terminated), is the lessor obligated to extend your contract even though they already have a contract with a new tenant for that apartment?
    Or is there no such protection for tenants in this special crisis?
    Thank you in advance!

    • No, there are no such obligations in general. You are permitted to rent a new apartment, however – this is not forbidden during the coronavirus “national quarantine”.

  17. Hello Augustinas,
    Please, help me understand.
    If parquet floor gets moist damage (swelling) from regular mopping due to large shells between the wood tiles (from improper parquet installation), is it considered as “normal wear and tear” or is it “damage caused by improper care”? Can the lessor withhold the deposit for this? Who is liable in such situation?
    Kindly w. best regards

    • Each situation is unique and so it is impossible to say exactly, as there is no law that lists every situation. Only a court of law has a final say if the dispute reaches a court. There are typically few precedents as Lithuania is a much smaller country than the USA or the UK and also the Civil Code is relatively new (operating since the year 2000), which means that pre-2000 typically precedent no longer matter as the law has changed. And there is a limited set of precedents in a country of 3 million over a period of ~20 years.

      So, if the owner withholds the deposit, you would need to go to court and the court may order him to give the deposit back should the court decide this was actually a normal wear-and-tear.

      Typically, though, as deposits are often relatively small and the court procedure takes time (or money, should one hire an attorney), it is also usual that people do not pursue this, and that is also why some lessors may take the deposit even when they shouldn’t or they are likely (but not 100% certain) to lose at the court. That said, if you hire an attorney and win in court, the lessor will have to pay your legal expenses as well (as long as they are reasonable).

  18. Hello Augustinas,

    I just moved to Vilnius now 3 months and i have a year rental contract and i find a better flat and im thinkink to change my flat , i read in the entire contract and nowhere its written that if i cancel the contract before the one year i loose my deposit , so i want to know will i get back my deposit if i decide to inform my landlord that im leaving after 3 months ?

    Thanks

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