4 Questions to Ask Before Signing an Apartment Lease

Before signing an apartment lease in NYC, you need to make sure that you’re absolutely clear on what is and isn’t allowed so that there are no rude awakenings for you on move-in day. Check out four questions you need to ask before signing your lease.

Hopefully, you’re reading this before and not after you’ve signed the lease for an apartment with hideous pea-soup-green-colored walls that you’re not allowed to paint or one that’s overlooking a beautiful garden you thought was one of your amenities but you’re actually not allowed to use. New Yorkers, forever on the hunt for the perfect space, are often quick to sign on the dotted line for their dream apartments. But rushing into things can have consequences. Check out below for a sampling of the questions that you need to ask a prospective landlord before signing an apartment lease in New York City.

Question #1: Will the rent be going up at the end of the lease?

It’s great when apartment hunters can find great rental apartments that fit comfortably within their budgets. What’s not so great is having those manageable rents unexpectedly skyrocket when you go to renew your lease. Some landlords keep apartment lease amounts in step with market forces, which means if rents are increasing in your area, you may see your monthly rental costs climb exponentially. To avoid nasty surprises, ask the landlord if it would be possible to put into the lease a clause that spells out whether you should expect a price increase when you renew your lease, and if so, how much it will be.

Question #2: Will I be able to make alterations to the apartment?

Some people move into a rental and leave it as is, never dreaming of changing a single thing. Other people move into a rental and immediately change it up, painting the wall and swapping out lighting fixtures in order to make the space feel more personalized and homey. If you fall into the latter camp, make sure you can actually do these things before you move in. Read the lease, and if it doesn’t specify whether you can make changes to the apartment, ask your landlord to spell it out for you in writing. Many landlords are fine with tenants making simple changes.

Question #3: Can I bring Spot?

After everything you went through to rescue your three-legged beagle-poodle-terrier mix Spot from the shelter, you don’t want to find out that he’s not allowed to live in your brand-new digs. If you’ve got a pet, make sure that the building rules allow it to live on the premises. Some landlords with no-pet policies may be persuaded to allow pets if the animals are well-behaved and the tenants put up extra deposit money.

Question #4: Can I get a roommate if I want one?

Sometimes, life brings about change, and sometimes, that change involves having someone move in with you, be it a romantic partner you can’t live without or a friend who can move in to help defray monthly expenses. Whatever the reasons, renters should be clear on the landlord’s roommate policy before signing a lease. If there’s even a chance that you’d want to live with someone during your lease term, find out what the roommate policy is (and learn more about your right to have a roommate) before signing.

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