Bedbugs and Broomsticks: Are These Clauses in Your Apartment Lease?

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.”
― Rodney Dangerfield

It’s August – a time when many people move into new apartments so they’ll be settled in before the new school (or college) year starts.

Most people HATE moving – especially in the summer. What could be worse than hauling a sofa up three flights of stairs in the SWELTERING HEAT?

Landlords from Hell

Whatever time of year a move happens, there’s also the stress of signing a new lease.

Most leases are pretty standard, and some people will (unwisely) sign them without even reading them – let alone understanding them.

BAD IDEA.

Even though your landlord seems friendly now, he or she could still turn out to be the landlord from hell.

Both common and uncommon lease clauses can cause major problems down the road, if you don’t realize what you’re agreeing to.

Here are some lease clauses you should look out for.

Bedbugs

Does your apartment lease have a “bedbug rider”?

No, that’s not a microscopic guy with an itty-bitty lasso who rounds up your bedroom vermin. It’s a clause that covers who’s responsible if your place is infested with the nasty little creatures.

If bedbugs are common in your area and your lease doesn’t have such a rider, you might want to add one.

Recently the New York Times received the following inquiry:

My wife and I recently signed a one-year lease for an apartment. It included a rider stating that all apartments in our building had been bedbug-free for at least one year before our move-in date. After we moved in, we learned from the superintendent that an apartment in our building had been infested by bedbugs and treated a few weeks before our move-in date. …

As we understand it, the landlord is responsible for the costs of fumigating. Who is responsible for other expenses, like replacing mattresses and furniture?

The answer, according to the Times, is that (at least in New York City):

Under normal circumstances, a landlord is required to treat the infestation and a tenant is responsible for cleaning personal belongings.

Good to know, right?

Broomsticks

Can a landlord evict someone for being a slob?

Maybe not an ordinary, dishes in the sink, pizza boxes on the coffee table, overflowing cat box-type slob, but a serious Hoarders-grade slob?

According to Landlordology,

Generally speaking, Landlords cannot dictate the cleaning behavior of a tenant unless they have reason to believe the tenant is violating health or fire codes, or causing damage to themselves, the property, or other people.  With that said, if your lease states that the tenant must hire a monthly maid service, then that is a contractual expense which should hold up in court.

So the answer is, it depends on just how grody your place is, and what your lease requires.

Lease Leverage

To learn about more lease clauses that can cause you problems, please check out our earlier blog, here.

When you’re negotiating a lease, you’ll have a lot more leverage if you know what’s standard and what’s not – and what additional clauses could protect you. When you’re potentially dealing with the landlord from hell, you want to come armed with knowledge.

LawGeex makes that easy — you can upload your lease and have it compared to thousands of others to see how yours stacks up.

Click here to learn how it works, or click the link on the right to upload your lease and get fast feedback… before the bed bugs bite.

The information and materials in this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice.

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