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Q. My wife and I are considering renting a fully-furnished apartment for the next year. The landlord seems pretty concerned about the valuable antiques amongst the art and furniture, which concerns me that I could be held liable for any damage, alleged or perceived.
What would you suggest we do?
A. Your concern is understandable. First, make sure that the lease clearly lays out the respective responsibilities of landlord and tenant in this situation.
For example, will your landlord provide housekeeping services to ensure the furniture is kept in good condition? If not, are you obligated to? The landlord will likely also have a provision requiring you to immediately notify her of any damage that occurs while you’re living in the apartment, which you should do immediately if anything does happen.
The lease should also have an addendum with an inventory of the personal property. It should be numbered and each item clearly described. You should review the list yourself for accuracy and make notes of any damage you see which should in turn be noted on the addendum. There should be a provision to accompany the inventory that states that the list is true and complete and that both parties agree that there are no additional items in the apartment that are not included on the inventory.
I would also recommend taking a fairly detailed video inventory of the apartment at the time you sign the lease. Make sure it is time and date stamped. Try to make particular note of any damage (e.g. scratches or cracks) that you noted on the lease addendum. Save this until you move out and receive your security deposit back.
Lastly, when you do move out, make sure that the landlord does a final walk-through with you. You might want to consider videotaping that as well and attempting to get the landlord to sign a statement at that time that none of her property has been broken or damaged.
Mike Akerly is a New York City real estate attorney, landlord, and real estate broker. He is also the publisher of the Greenwich Village blog VillageConfidential.
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