Thursday, October 02, 2014

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Renters Should Read Fine Print Before They Sign Their Lease

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There are many clauses in a lease to keep an eye on, so renters should make sure they read the fine print before they sign theirs. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.

In this mad dash world of high demand real estate, many renters are so relieved to find a place, they rush to sign a lease and sometimes fail to read all the fine print. Bad idea, says Mike Akerly, who is a real estate broker, attorney and author of "The Rent Coach" column on the site BrickUnderground.

He says that while items in the lease may not be negotiable, you should understand what you are signing up for, and there are some key clauses to keep an eye on. First is the sublet policy.

"There is often a misconception that people do not have the right to sublet their apartment, and although in some cases, that might actually be true, generally, every tenant does have the right to sublet the apartment," Akerly says. "The key is that you may need to find a replacement that is actually qualified, and you'll need to seek the approval of the landlord, but the landlord cannot withhold that approval unreasonably."

With pets, look to see what types are allowed, if any, and if there are weight and breed restrictions. Some co-ops and condos allow owners to have pets, but not renters, so check the bylaws.

Also, if there's outdoor space, make sure your right to use it is in the lease. This way, you can get a break in your rent should that area become unusable.

If there is an air conditioner, read up on who's responsible for it.

"Look out for a clause that might state that although the landlord is providing air conditioning, they're not responsible for the upkeep or maintenance, and should the unit go out during the course of your lease, it's your responsibility to have it fixed or replaced," Akerly says.

Check the section on renovations. If you make improvements, make sure the approvals are in writing in the lease, or you could be responsible for returning the apartment to its original condition, even if you think you made the unit better.

And make sure you read the provisions on showing the apartment when the lease is up.

"It can run the gamut from requiring you to show the apartment 90 days, 60 days, 30 days before the end of your lease," Akerly says. "Some landlords will actually have a provision stating that you personally have to hold open houses. Sometimes, they'll give out keys to other brokers. Sometimes, they'll give keys to the management company. It's very important that you understand what you're entering into."

Because if you don’t understand exactly what you are getting into, it could get you into trouble later on.

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