I'm taking over a lease. Is it true that the landlord doesn't have to paint before I move in? What does he have to do? Is there anything else I should be aware of?
It all depends on timing, say our experts.
"New York City landlords are required to paint every three years, but it is a law that is difficult to enforce," says Gordon Roberts of Sotheby's International Realty."Landlords typically do some renovations in between tenants while the unit is unoccupied, but in your case, since you’re taking over a lease, they may not feel compelled to paint, especially if it was painted less than three years ago."
That doesn't mean you shouldn't ask, though. The managing agent might agree to a compromise, "like providing the paint if you supply the labor," says Roberts. "If the exiting tenant has painted the apartment any color besides white, they might hold them liable for re-painting the apartment to its original white before allowing you to assume the lease. You wouldn't want their purple paint job to become your responsibility, anyway."
There are some instances, such as "if the paint was damaged, peeling, flaking or stained," when a landlord would have to paint before the three-year period is up, says Sam Himmelstein, a lawyer who represents residential and commercial tenants and tenant associations (FYI, he's a Brick sponsor).
Generally speaking though, says Himmelstein, "there isn’t much more that the landlord is required to do other than deliver the apartment in habitable condition—no bugs, heat and hot water functioning, appliances, plumbing and windows working."
Maggie Fanney, an agent with Triplemint, suggests reaching out to the management company with any questions before you take over the lease and move in.
"I've seen situations where the landlord refuses to repaint, or is open to repainting, and even cases where the listing agent is paying for the apartment to be repainted or at least cleaned," says Fanney. (Note: sometimes to get their leases taken over as quickly as possible, the current renter will hire a broker to help him or her find a new tenant.)
More broadly, you want to make sure that the person whose lease you're taking over has gone through the appropriate steps.
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