Lease vs. rent: is it the same thing?

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September 15, 2020
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If you are apartment hunting for the first time, it can sometimes be a bit confusing. So is a lease and rent the same thing? Let’s break it down.

Lease vs. rent apartment

While the terms rental agreement and lease agreement are sometimes used interchangeably, they can mean different things. So what is the difference between rent agreement and lease?

The main difference between a lease and rent is the time period they last for. A lease generally lasts for 12 months, but can range depending on the landlord. It gives the tenants a right to live in an apartment space for a fixed period of time.

On the other hand, a rental agreement lasts for a much shorter time. They generally last for only 30 days and can be renewed or terminated at the end of the period.

A lease agreement is great for those who want to settle into a neighborhood, and have long-term security for your living arrangement. However, a rental agreement is a good choice for those who are not sure if they want to settle in a certain area. This is because it allows you the freedom of living in different neighborhoods for only a month or two at a time.

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Leasing an apartment in New York City

So how do apartment leases work? Leases are terms and conditions both the landlord and tenant agrees to. This includes the cost of rent, pet policies, how long the lease is to last, and much more. 

The lease is beneficial for both the tenant and landlord. This is because both sides can’t change the agreement without consent from the other. This means the landlord can’t raise the rent or force the tenant to move out before the lease ends. In turn, the tenant has to continue paying rent and can’t move out of the property during the lease.

Keep in mind that a lease agreement does not automatically renew after the end of the term. Instead, a lease renewal has to be drawn up and agreed to by both the landlord and tenant.

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Three things to know before renting or leasing

Knowing how the words “rental agreement” and “lease agreement” can reference distinct types of rentals in New York City is just the start. So what other important parts of renting an apartment in NYC should you know about?

The first thing you should prepare for renting an apartment is a background check and credit check. Most times, the broker or landlord will ask for your current bank statement, several paystubs, and a salary statement from your employer.

Keep in mind that a guarantor is always an option if you are currently a student or are not making a lot of money. A guarantor can be your parents, other family members, or friends. Additionally, there are also companies now who are willing to serve as guarantors. Do your research beforehand and know your options before signing a lease.

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Secondly, what should you expect to pay at the lease signing? The standard at a lease signing is first month’s rent along with a security deposit. This deposit is usually one month’s rent. Moreover, it is illegal for landlords to request more than these two payments at lease signing. So be sure you are able to pay two month’s worth of rent up front before you sign the lease!

Additionally, since real estate in NYC is in high demand, apartments tend to go off the market quickly. This can be stressful if you are in the apartment hunting process. So, it’s important to find your perfect space before someone else gets to it first. 

If you find an apartment you like and want to settle on, the first thing is to give a deposit. This will temporarily hold the apartment for you. In addition, it will go towards half of what you need to put down at the lease signing. However, keep in mind that once you give the deposit, you won’t get the money back if you back out on the apartment.

On the other hand, if the landlord chooses to go with another prospective tenant, then you will get a refund on your deposit.

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Lastly, another important thing you should keep in mind renting an apartment in New York City is how utilities are going to work. When you are interested in a certain apartment space, it is a good idea to ask upfront about the cost of utilities.

This may seem like a small thing, but the cost of utilities can add a few hundred dollars a month on top of your rent. Knowing what utilities you may have to pay for can help you better visualize if that specific space fits your financial budget.

Furthermore, it is important to have clauses in your lease agreement about who is responsible for various utilities. This includes things like water, gas, electricity, garbage, internet, and more. By having this written into the lease agreement, it’ll prevent any misunderstandings between you and your landlord.

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Looking for apartments or houses for lease in New York City? Localize is the first and only real estate marketplace that pairs complete inventory with the complete story about every property.

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