The Search

The parts of your lease that deserve a close read

By Lucy Cohen Blatter  | July 17, 2014 - 1:59PM

In Case You Missed It: Every so often, BrickUnderground digs through the archives to find the best advice our experts have shared through the years.

It's tempting to skim over the pages and pages of fine print in a new lease, especially since most of it is probably boilerplate legalese. But before you sign on the dotted line, take a second look at the five items below. Not paying attention to these clauses could get you in trouble down the road:

Renewal policies. If your lease has an option to renew for one or more years, check to see if there is an escalation clause, which would raise the rent in subsequent years, either by a fixed dollar amount, a percentage of the first year’s rent, or the cost of living. You'll also want to see if there's a deadline to renew the lease. Sometimes it's 30, 60 or 90 days before the initial agreement expires. 

Utilities. Some landlords--especially in buildings where apartments aren't separately metered--may cover the cost of utilities in the rent. But usually only the water and heat are included, so make sure you know what you'll be responsible for paying every month. 

Pets. Take a look at what the lease says about animals, since not all buildings allow them. Others may restrict the weight or breed.

Air conditioner rules. Some landlords limit the number of A/C units you can have or ban them altogether. 

Outdoor space. If you're lucky enough to live in a building with a backyard or rooftop, be sure the right to use it is stated explicitly in the lease. Otherwise, you won't be entitled to a rent abatement if the space is unusable for any reason. 

For more advice, check out: "Renters beware: 11 things to look out for on that lease"


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