In New York City, finding the perfect apartment is no easy feat. So, when you find that ideal space in your budget, it can be tempting to quickly sign a lease to ensure you don’t lose the property to other renters.
However, as a legally binding document, you must understand the terms of your lease before you sign a rental agreement. Ignoring the terms and provisions could result in problems down the road – including the risk of eviction. Here are four crucial things renters should know about their lease terms before they sign the dotted line:
1. When your lease ends and your renewal options
While the standard lease agreement is 12 months, they can vary depending on what you and your landlord agree on. For renewal, most contracts will require you to give your landlord between 30 to 90 days’ notice if you plan to stay. If you fail to give notice, you could find yourself without a place to live or transition to a month-to-month lease, which may result in a rent increase. Alternatively, your contract could also auto-renew for another year, which could lock you into a higher price.
2. Your security deposit
Generally, most security deposits are the equivalent of one month’s rent. However, your landlord may require more if you have poor credit. A higher security deposit is a reassurance to your landlord that you’ll pay your rent every month. If you met all your obligations as a renter when you vacate the unit and return it in good condition, you should get your security deposit back between 30 and 60 days after moving.
3. Your rent’s grace period
The rent grace period is the number of days you have after your rent is due to pay without earning a late penalty. If you don’t pay your rent within this period, you’ll get hit with a late fee, which could be a flat fee or a percentage of your rent. Get familiar with this period before signing your lease, so you don’t end up paying more in late fees or risk eviction.
4. Decorating restrictions
Many leases restrict making changes to the unit or require the landlord’s permission first. It may seem innocent to paint the walls or hang a picture with a nail. But if you do so without your landlord’s consent, you may lose your security deposit to pay for returning the property to its original condition.
You might think rental agreements are straightforward, but they can be dense legal documents. To protect yourself and your rights, be sure you know what you’re getting into before renting.