Are you thinking of entering into a lease? You will be asked to sign a contact, generally for one year. It’s important to understand all terms in the contract before you officially agree. To help you interpret the steps of the leasing process, Platinum Properties has put together a “lease cheat sheet” with everything you need to know before signing away a year’s worth of rent.

Knowing these simple tips before signing your NYC residential lease can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in potential disputes. Use the Platinum Renter’s Guide as a resource as well so you are prepared to find the best lease for your needs.

Know Thy Landlord

Just as your landlord needs to trust that you will be a quality tenant, you need to feel confident that the landlord will be able to provide and maintain a comfortable home environment. Be open and ask questions about the property, amenities, and how to submit maintenance requests. You will be in contact with each other for at least a year, so it’s beneficial to form a positive, yet professional relationship.

First Impressions, First Inspections

When visiting an apartment, keep an eye out for any issues you may need to immediately address with the landlord or include in your lease. You do not want to sign a lease knowing something needs repairs. The landlord should fix any outstanding problems before you move in.

Know What’s Covered

Some rental properties, especially in NYC, include utilities, cable, parking and certain amenities, while others do not. Since many people are on a strict rental budget, it’s necessary to know exactly what you will be paying for every month. Add up all costs including rent and utilities before signing a lease. Including utility expenses plus cable could raise your rental budget to something you may not be able to afford.

Can I Customize?

Ask a landlord what you are able to change in the apartment before signing a lease. This topic often creates tenant disputes when a landlord becomes irate when the paint color has changed or the walls are punctured with nails for hanging pictures. Landlords are becoming more open to creative changes and allowing customizations, contingent upon the fact that everything can be easily changed back to the original condition before the lease term is up. Always ask your landlord before making any changes to avoid extra fees.

Pet Policies

Don’t plan to sneak a pet in your apartment. This can be clear grounds to be asked to vacate. Many leases in Manhattan will state certain breeds and weight limits of pets that are allowed. If you plan on getting a pet after moving in, let your landlord know ahead of time to avoid any issues.

Know Your Way Out

Read the lease termination section carefully so you know the consequences of breaking your lease. This section also generally includes how to renew your lease the following year and how far in advance you need to let the landlord know if you plan on moving out or renewing.

Now that you know these tips to signing a lease, you are ready to start searching for rentals. Ask our seasoned rental agents to help you find the right neighborhood or rental.