Frazzled and confused before signing the lease to your home in New York City? Check our guide to make lease signing in NYC, for a stress-free process!

For a first time renter, the entire process of finding an apartment, finding roommates, and signing a lease can seem wildly intimidating. After the many changes rentals in New York witnessed in the past year, processes like renting a new apartment can seem doubly confusing.

Add to this the trouble of ensuring that your apartment is rent stabilized.

Moving into a new apartment in New York is an incredibly exciting prospect. But none of us want to find ourselves in a situation where we regret signing the lease altogether.

That being said, here’s everything you need to know before lease signing in New York City.

What’s a Lease Signing?

A lease signing, simply put, is the actual formal contract where you officially agree to rent an apartment. This agreement seals the deal between the tenant and the landlord, or representative of the landlord. This process can take place both in person or online.

How is a lease different from a rental agreement?

While there is no strict legal difference, in some instances a rental agreement or a periodic tenancy may refer to a short-term rental contract. This term can be used in many contexts, but its most common usage is for month-to-month tenancy.

A lease agreement, on the other hand, allows the renter to lease a property for a set term, usually six months or over.

What does a lease contain?

Any straightforward lease agreement will include:

A. The terms of your rental stay

Stuff like your time of stay to the rent amount and additional fees you may incur. This section will also contain the requirements you must abide by in order to stay in the house, legally.

B. Rules and Regulations

Some basic rules include matters involving home maintenance, guest subletting and pet guidelines. Not following these rules may lead to eviction.

C. Legal notices

This section will include the legal terms that exist between you, your house and the landlord. Renters’ rights, advise on lead paint, etc.

D. Parking paperwork

If your lease includes an assigned parking spot, you may be asked to fill out a form identifying your car.

What should you expect at a lease signing?

A lease signing will take place after you receive the approval of your application to rent an apartment in New York. Some renters are asked to appear physically and show a guarantee of funds during the lease signing. Others are asked to sign and pay remotely or electronically.

You can read more about renter laws and laws of renting apartments in New York here.

When should you expect a lease signing?

A lease signing happens after the renter receives their approval based on their credit report and their financial qualifications.

A lease signing schedule is based on whether the landlord decides to approve your application.

What do you need to carry during your lease signing appointment in New York?

Lease signing day will be nothing if not a day filled with paperwork.

The New York City government requires all potential renters to carry the following documents to that lease signing appointments:

Proof of employment

Some of the most widely accepted documents for proof of employment in New York City include:

  1. Past two months of pay stubs (or bank statements)
  2. Offer of employment letter (for new hires)
  3. Income tax returns (for self-employed renters)

Photo identification

As required with any major financial undertaking, your lease signing appointment will also require you to bring along a photo ID. This would also mean carrying identification documents of any other people sharing the lease with you.

Letters of reference

While not mandatory, there are certain communities and property agents that require the submission of a reference letter before they lease out an apartment. These letters need to be signed and dated by the person writing them.

Proof of renters’ insurance

Renters’ insurance is meant to protect the renters’ belongings in the face of a natural disaster, burglary, or any other kind of damage. This is also a document that is requested by many housing societies and dental agencies.

Your landlord will let you know beforehand if this document is required.

Cheque-book, money order, or any other mode of payment.

If you haven’t already paid your first month’s rent/security, this would be the day to do it. Based on your landlord’s preference, you can bring along a mode of payment to your lease appointment!

Vehicle documents/registration

Apartments in big cities, with limited parking spaces, usually assign a marked parking space to the tenants. So, expect your landlord to ask for your vehicle registration if you are renting an apartment in New York in one of those buildings.

Ask your landlord about any else that might be required.

This one’s really important. A simple email or text confirming the details of your appointment can save you the trouble of having an entire day wasted over a piece of paper you forgot to carry!

Should you be bringing someone with you for the lease signing?

Your Guarantor

Yes, if your lease has mentioned a guarantor.

A guarantor is a cosigner – so their signatures must also be present on the lease. Your guarantor not being present at the lease signing appointment could pose a problem, so re-schedule if need be. This of course is only applicable for in-person signing appointments.

Your Lawyer

While it’s not necessary to bring along an attorney to a lease signing in New York, some people prefer doing so. It’s frankly, just a matter of preference. If you’re not comfortable signing a document without having an attorney look over it, take your lawyer along for the lease signing.

If your lawyer can’t be at the venue, you can certainly request your landlord to send a copy of the lease to your lawyer.

Who gets a copy of the lease?

Ideally, everyone who signed the lease agreement should get a copy of the contract. Tenants should always keep the copies safe, in case they are required for reference in the future.

This is also important because some property managers charge the tenant extra to get another copy of the lease.