In general, very little documentation is required in order to rent accommodation in Vietnam: a photocopied passport, work visa or permit and the address of your employer. By law, landlords have to report this information to the government when renting property to a foreigner. You will also need your lease agreement, which consists of quite a few parts.
1. Pre-tenancy agreement
This is an agreement proposing your intention to lease, and any requirements you may have for the rental property. Ensure that all your requirements and requests are clearly stated. After the landlord has signed the Pre-Tenancy Agreement, he or she is bound by the agreement to provide your requests.
2. Goodfaith deposit (booking deposit)
The booking deposit is usually the amount of one month's rent. After the landlord has signed the Pre-Tenancy Agreement and accepts this deposit, he or she cannot rent the property to any other party. This deposit will become part of the security deposit, or advance rental payment after the entire lease agreement is signed.
3. Security deposit
The amount of the security deposit is usually stated in the Pre-Tenancy Agreement. This payment can vary considerably and could require up to a minimum of six months rent. For a large, new house, a minimum of a years rent could be demanded; but this is not the norm, and you should be cautious to proceed if asked for such a large amount. When the lease term ends, the deposit will be refunded without interest. However, the landlord reserves the right to deduct from the deposit all costs and expenses arising from the tenant for breaching any of the covenants stated in the lease agreement.
4. Term of lease
In Vietnam, the standard lease period is for 12 to 36 months. The exception is for leases on serviced apartments, which are generally more flexible and can be for variable lengths of time. In most cases, landlords will not accept leases that are less than one year. Although, if your circumstances demand such an arrangement, lease terms can be negotiated. Landlords will often state if the contract includes an option to renew the lease. A lease renewal is usually for another one to two years. For the lease renewal option, the landlord would normally require that you give two or three months advance notice of your intention to renew.
5. Diplomatic or repatriate clause
This clause is to safeguard you in the event that you are no longer employed or transferred to another country. You can terminate the lease after 12 months by giving two months notice. Thereafter, the security deposit will be refunded to you. Make sure that only you have the right to terminate the contract. The landlord should only be permitted to terminate the contract if you fail to make the rent payments on time. Please note that most landlords will only include the diplomatic clause if the lease is more than one year.
If you do not speak Vietnamese fluently, and/or you are not a native speaker, request that your lease agreement be in both English and Vietnamese. A reputable real estate agent should be able to provide you with a simple, but comprehensive lease document in both languages. Also, if you have doubts about any of the terms of the contract, you should consult a lawyer before signing.