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Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate

And other steps to take before signing on the dotted line.

Ask and ye shall (maybe) receive.
“Nearly everything’s negotiable,” says Halstead Property’s Lynn Epstein, who specializes in rentals on Long Island. It’s fair game to ask the broker—or the landlord directly—if he will discount the asking price. About 5 or 10 percent is reasonable, if the original asking is in line with the market, though not everyone will haggle. (Some landlords may only be open to discounting multiweek stays.) If he won’t budge on the price, press for more time—an extra weekend, perhaps. When asked, some owners may agree to stock the cupboard with staples or lend you their bikes.

Actually read the paperwork.
So you can get a firm handle on what’s included and what’s not. Many landlords require tenants to pay for utilities and upkeep. The start and end dates should be defined, down to the hour, and make sure the condition in which the property is to be returned is spelled out (broom-swept versus spic-and-span). The contract should also indicate when payment must be received and when you’ll see your security deposit (within 45 days is typical). For the varsity renter: Take photos when you arrive and leave, so there’s no dispute over damages.

Get an emergency contact.
Say a pipe bursts or the A/C fails—be sure you know who’s responsible for dealing with it, both logistically and financially. (The rule of thumb: Anything you’ve caused will likely come out of your pocket.) Epstein says her contracts usually include a clause that details how many days the landlord has to remedy a problem so tenants aren’t left hanging. “You’re not expected to stay under impossible conditions,” she says.


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