Before signing, it is imperative to negotiate the terms of a lease to address and convey your renter’s rights. Not only does a lease speak to your personal financial agreement, but also it addresses any current and future repairs that might arise throughout the duration of your lease.
A landlord is obligated to provide a livable environment with the basic necessities. The leased property must be structurally safe and sanitary. It must have functioning heat and electricity, running hot and cold water and sufficient weatherproofing. Working smoke detectors and a lock and key system are basic provisions of renting. There are state and local laws that address these specific requirements for renting.
The Process of Preparing a Lease
The best approach to apartment repairs is to be proactive. Before signing a lease, survey the property and make a list of necessary repairs. Be sure that necessary repairs are specifically listed and detailed in the body of the lease or in an attached addendum. Include reasonable completion dates for each repair. Add a specific statement into the lease, addressing the process to be followed for future repairs, as they arise.
Do’s and Don’ts before Signing on the Dotted Line
There are certain expectations on both sides of the lease. What are the renter’s responsibilities? He/she must keep the property clean and in the same physical condition as when the lease was signed. A prime example is pest control, which becomes the responsibility of the renter, if the apartment if found to be poorly cleaned or unsanitary. If the renter refuses to pay the exterminators’ bill, in such a situation, the amount can be deducted from their security deposit.
Discuss cosmetic repairs, but don’t expect the landlord to agree to all of your requests. Landlords are not legally responsible to complete aesthetic renovations, unless they also pose a safety issue. A prime example is requesting that a stained carpet be professionally cleaned; this is an aesthetic request versus asking to have a torn carpet replaced because of a tripping hazard. The tripping hazard will prevail. Get the picture?
Be specific and have a credible foundation for you repair request. Back it up with the health and safety issues and the potential for further progression of the problem. For example, if the problem is fixed now, it will prevent a larger, more expensive repair in the future.
The Lease—Signed, Sealed and Delivered
The most important outcome of a lease negotiation is to protect you, the renter, in the event that a major or minor repair need arises. Be sure to negotiate the mechanics of a repair. Is it always the responsibility of the landlord to provide the physical repair or is there a clause in the lease for the renter to buy the supplies, do the labor and deduct the cost from the rent? These are all key points to negotiate and specifically address in a lease, before signing. Protect the property and protect yourself.