5 surprises that you should try to avoid in your lease

Fun fact: landlords don't always like this. via Flickr user jasoneppink

Fun fact: landlords don’t always like this. via Flickr user jasoneppink

Signing a lease is usually the part of the apartment search you think about the least. Part of that has to do with the fact that it’s the last step, part of it has to do with leases being long and full of legalese. The folks at Brick Underground put together a list of things you should look out for  before you sign on the dotted line. Here’s five of them:

1. When to renew

If you really love your apartment and don’t want to leave it, make sure you know when in the you have to renew your lease. Sometimes it turns out to be as far out as 90 days before the end. Miss it and you can lose the right to renew.

2. Pets: get it in writing

You’re bored and want to get a dog. But unless your lease explicitly says you can have pets, it’s entirely up to the capricious whims of the landlord. Even if the person showing you a building says that it’s pet-friendly, check the lease, before you try to move your cat in with you or get attached to a dog down at the shelter.

3. Subletters: can you have them?

On the one hand, leases usually say you need landlord approval for subletters. On the other hand, New York housing law says that landlords have to be reasonable in giving their consent. If you’re leaving for good and the landlord refuses to let someone take over your rent, you might even be able to cancel your lease.

4. Air conditioners sometimes not welcome

If you’re the kind of person who thinks they’re tough because they don’t need A/C for the summer, this won’t matter to you. But for the rest of you, make sure you don’t live in a building where you either can’t install a window unit, or in some cases, can have one installed, but can’t do it yourself. If you DIY in a building where you’re required to get someone else to do it, the landlord can fine you.

5. When you can get your security deposit back

Hey here’s something fun: the law in New York says that your landlord only has to give back your security deposit “within a reasonable period of time.” Sure, that’s not vague. So try to get a provision in your lease that says exactly when you can get your deposit back. And also don’t do anything like put a hole in the wall and lose the thing anyway.

But there’s many other things Brick Underground has to share with you about your lease, so check it out and avoid some surprises.