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Documents you should be wary of signing

documentIn today’s world, we sign documents and agreements left and right. Each app or update we install comes with a lengthy block of text we mechanically skip.

These are pretty standard contracts that do not necessarily have any tricky clauses and we can get away with the lack of attention we pay them. Other, more serious contracts and agreements, however, do require a lot more care and studying before we sign off on them. Be it because they offer us subpar conditions or they have long-term and at-a-glance imperceptible clauses which are not really in our best interest, the principle of “buyer beware” applies.

Here are some types of contracts you are likely to sign in your lifetime and what you need to look out for before you do.

Leases

Leases are documents which set the terms under which one party rents property to another party. The key to any lease is information having to do with payments and the conditions under which it occurs. There are many factors influencing this and a great number of those of outside of your control. Some, on the other hand, may be more flexible and knowing crucial details like those can make a substantial difference.

Experts and agencies know the minutia of the administrative and geographic constraints, so if you are ever approached by a company wanting to build something on your property, it is advisable to the highest degree to consult with experts. A very current example of this are cell towers, springing up everywhere due to high demand, and the cell tower lease rates offered, which an agency can bump up up to 10 times for you.

Another issue with leases is long-term profitability, i.e., is it better to take a lump sum upfront or agree on a rate. Once more, there are parameters other than simple math involved in this and someone with inside knowledge is invaluable in these situations.

Loans

A loan is document by which one party gives a sum of money, or some other commodity, to another party which is to repay it in the future. There are many types of loans and each have their specific terms. There are, however, certain clauses which you should not roll over for, no matter the specifics.

One such item is vague language in loans, especially referring to timelines. Phrases like “timely” or “well in advance” spring to mind. Such muddy language leaves wiggle room and you should rightfully feel some suspicion if you come across it. If you ever need to, say, contest anything or a problem arises, it is possible for this nebulous  language to be used against you.

Actions taken unilaterally and without the borrower’s permission are likewise not acceptable. Both the bank and the customer are equal parties and such treatment is deeply problematic, not to mention illegal.

Employment Contracts

Getting a new job is one of life’s great accomplishments, especially if you’ve waited and worked hard to get there. It is therefore understandable that you want to jump headfirst into it and get the administration out of the way as fast as possible. Mind you, you should know that some clauses in these contracts may have a great impact on your professional future and once you agree to them by signing, it is virtually impossible to undo the damage.

A lot of these clauses relate to the competition, preventing you and your co-workers from working for them in various ways (noncompete, non solicit, no-hire). While they are ultimately unavoidable in some measure, you should definitely educate yourself and understand their full extend before you decide to agree to them. Their extent and duration should be subject to reasonable negotiation.

If not, ask yourself why the company is offering such an unbalanced contract and if that is the right environment for you.  It also never hurts to peruse blogs and forums and get firsthand testimonials of people and hear their unsanitized accounts of what it is really like to work there.

Conclusion

It may be a cynical way of viewing the world – that everyone is out to get you and that they only care about their interest – but, in business, protecting your interests is a necessary evil and one that ultimately allows business owners to employ other people and improve their prospects.

This doesn’t mean that you should just accept anything and everything that is offered  to you. Educating yourself about the basics of commonplace documents will go a long way in ensuring a better future for you and your ventures.

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