4 questions to ask before signing a lease
Whether you just broke up with a live-in boyfriend or are simply looking for a new place, the idea of moving and starting “fresh” is either an exciting prospect or a huge pile of misery.
Published May 6, 2014 2:00 PM
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For New Yorkers in particular, the thought of switching pads, acquiring new roomies or lugging around furniture gives us major anxiety. Since I am, after all, a real estate agent, I figured I’d share four questions you should always ask your broker before signing a lease:
1. Why did the past tenant move out? Are there any defects I should be made aware of? It’s good to know who lived in your future home before you and the reasons they decided to leave. Rarely do these reasons prove interesting, but you never know—especially in New York City. Make sure your agent tells you about any recent or past insect, rodent, or bedbug issues, as well as any mismanagement or financial issues on the part of the management company, and walks you through all of the amenities the building offers (or lack thereof).
2. How much is my rent expected to increase next year? Unless you are in a rent-stabilized unit or sign a multiyear lease with predetermined rent rates, it’s almost 100 percent likely that your rent will increase significantly in a year. Even if you don’t plan to renew when your lease expires, knowing what to expect just in case can only help.
3. Do I have an option to renew? It’s important to ask, not assume, that you can renew your lease, just in case the owner/building has plans to renovate your unit and needs you to vacate after your term is up.
4. Am I renting from a management company or a landlord, and who do I contact for immediate assistance if something goes wrong? If you are paying rent to a landlord, you may be able to develop a more personal connection, which could come in handy if you have questions or issues. That said, I have dealt with many management companies that were extremely helpful with a dedicated email presence, so you never know. At the end of the day, it’s just good to know who’s receiving your check. Equally important, you should know if there is a super on or off site and how to best contact him when you need assistance. This is especially important when you are not living in a full-service building with a 24/7 doorman to answer these questions.