What to Expect When Signing the Rent on Your NYC Residence


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signing a lease on an NYC apartment

Renting can help protect tenants from misunderstandings. (Getty Images)

Movies make it easier to rent an apartment. A man shows up, hands over some money and gets the keys. But in real life, it’s not that simple. In most cases, renting involves signing a lease. This can complicate matters a bit, depending on a variety of factors. For example, do you rent from a management company or an independent landlord? Is it a rental building or a rental in a cooperative? And just as importantly, you have to prove it you can pay the rent – or provide a guarantor. Some of this may sound a little scary, but in its essence, renting is an important document that actually protects you as a tenant. These tips will help you navigate the process.

What’s in Luo?

Basically, a lease defines the conditions for rent, including how much you have to pay each month. Because it’s a legally binding contract that could affect you in the future – for example, if your building is sold or your management company changes hands – be sure to read it carefully. Here’s what you’ll find in a basic lease:

  • Rentable amount payable monthly.
  • Daily rent must be paid monthly.
  • Period of your lease, usually one to two years.
  • Name, address and contact information of the landlord or management company.
  • Services covered by rent (if any).
  • Building rules that can include a variety of details, including whether pets are allowed, if it’s okay to put nails in the walls, or if you can paint the walls a color other than white.

For COVID-19, Kristen Mantell, managing partner of real estate law firm Baron & Baron, advises: “Ask what the policy is about breaking your lease early and subletting. It’s important, even when there’s no pandemic. You never know what can happen. happen in the future. ”Make sure these details are included in the rental before signing up, as adding them later can be difficult.

What To Ask For Before Signing A Rent

Some essential details may need to be added to the lease when it is drafted, so here are a few things to ask about:

Most rentals are for one or two years. If you want to live somewhere longer than whether you are allowed to renovate, that can be important in your decision. This also sounds for co-location vicissitudes. “Applying for collaborative subletting can take time,” says Marcia Norman, an authorized real estate salesperson at Keller Williams NYC. “So if you plan to stay a while, all right. But if you plan to rent for only one year, or the shareholder only plans to rent for one year, you may not be interested in renting from a cooperative. A year passes in the blink of an eye. “

The Approval Process: Rental Buildings and Cooperatives

There are significant differences between renting in a rental building and subletting a cooperative, the main ones being time and financial investment. “A landlord or management company for a rental building usually just wants to check your credit history, employment and references before you can sign the lease,” Norman says. This can take up to two weeks. However, if you are renting from a co-op, there will probably be an in-depth application requiring several documents, a co-op board interview and additional fees. “The whole process can take 60 to 90 days,” Norman says. And setting up the lease or requesting repairs increases the length of time.

Check the Residence Before Signing a Rent

Once you know you want an apartment, notice any repairs (taking care of a toilet, leaking faucets, etc.) or other problems that need to be taken care of before you move out. Make sure these are added to the lease before signing it; your broker can handle this, or you can ask for it yourself. Oral agreement is not enough!

According to Mantell, a verbal rental agreement between you and an independent landlord is also called a monthly rental agreement. La Tenant Housing Stability and Protection Act 2019 gives some legal protections, mostly about when you need to be notified of a rent increase. But “if there are any disputes or complications, a fully implemented lease will be your best safeguard,” she says.

She also recommends that you take a final step to ensure repairs are completed to your satisfaction, or get the date when they will be fixed, recorded in the rental.

Because they’ll expect you to leave the apartment in the same condition you found it in, it’s smart to take photos before you relocate – especially if there are existing cracks, potholes or other things you don’t want to be unfairly responsible for afterwards. Email these photos to your landlord or management company, so you have a record of the date and time. It’s never too early to start a digital paper route to make sure you get your full security deposit when your lease is over.

Check That Rider Joins

If you rent rent-stabilized apartment, make sure the rental stabilization rider is included before signing the lease. This details how your lease will be renewed, and how the rent increase will be calculated. If you are not sure if your apartment is rented stabilized, ask your landlord or check at the New York Division of Homes and Community Renovation.

The lease may contain additional riders (aka “add-ons”) on lead paint level, pets and other conditions. Note that when you renew your lease, the basic conditions for a rent-stabilized apartment must remain the same as in the original. (Exceptions include new changes in city or state laws that must be complied with.)

Don’t Forget Your Roommates

It’s not necessary, but if you have roommates, it’s a good idea to add their names to the lease. This protects them if you have to break your lease early, Norman notes. And it could smooth out the transition as well, as your landlord won’t have to worry about finding someone else responsible for the rent.

Warranty Your Warranty

If you are using a guarantor, send the necessary documents well in advance and confirm that all details are accurately reflected in the final leasing.

What To Bring When You Sign A Lease

You will need to bring a valid ID (driver’s license or passport) and at least one check – typically a cashier’s check – to cover the security deposit and first monthly rent. In New York City, if you rent a rental-stabilized apartment, the landlord can only request the monthly rent and a security deposit no higher than one month’s rent. Get receipts for everything, and keep them safe for the duration of your lease.

Why You Need to Sign First

“There’s a very good reason for this,” Mantell says. “It’s because the landlord wants to be sure that the person they are giving the lease to is the one who applied. If the landlord signs first and hands over the lease, then anyone could sign it, and they will be left with a “completed lease” for someone who has not been approved. It is a classic bait and switch.

You May Not Get Keys Immediately

If the apartment is empty and ready for you to relocate, you will receive the keys when you sign the lease, usually from your broker. However, you may not receive keys if the previous tenant is still there, the apartment needs work, or your landlord will not allow you to access in advance. In these cases, you will receive the keys on the day your lease begins.

Keep a Paper Trace

Keep a copy of all documents you and the landlord sign. These are official documents, and it can be difficult to get copies later, especially if there is a problem. With a little diligence and patience, you will sign the lease and be sure you have found a new home.

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