Hamptons Summer Renting: Your Home Is My Home

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What will surprise new landlords most about renting their house in the Hamptons is the sudden and overwhelming urge to build a treehouse in the next lot with a view of their property. But if you are the tenant, you are in luck. No such thing will happen.

Both landlord and tenant sign a lease, which will have wording to the effect that if you, the tenant, do everything right, you may peaceably and quietly have, hold and enjoy the premises for the rental term. You are protected, no matter how much the landlord wants to peek.

If you’re a first-time landlord you may fear your home is going to be ravaged by wolves. But with buffers like a real estate broker, a great lease and references, it can be a calm and rewarding experience. The thing to note is this: A great lease is like a great negotiation; No one gets everything, but everyone gets just enough.

Remember the references, because the lease most likely will state that the broker is not the managing agent for the premises, and he/she is not responsible for mediating any disputes between landlord and tenant. You are basically on your own, Landlord, so get those references.

Picture this: You’re a first-time tenant. You arrive, and the house is a disaster. Maybe you didn’t take the time to come and see it. Or maybe it looks different. Now you’re thinking, your summer is a bust. Wrong. There’s typically a clause for that, namely one which says that you can notify the landlord within five days from the beginning of your rental term of any deficiencies, breakage or other damage that existed at the commencement of the rental term. And the landlord can be called upon to rectify these. So get crackng, Tenant, and speak up in those five days.

Usually the landlord and the tenant should have some commonality, so it would be helpful if the two of you meet before signing anything. If you are the landlord, and your potential tenant says she has the same taste in furnishings as you do, then you know you’re a match. If the potential tenant asks you if you will store all your furniture elsewhere, then you know you’re not.

One tenant I had, an orthopedic surgeon, took apart all my living room furniture and stored it behind the house. Then he covered the rest of the furniture with white sheets. Whatever you read into it, there’s a clause for that to protect the landlord from insanity. In effect, it will say that the tenant agrees to make no alterations to the premises without the landlord’s express written consent.

These days, it seems like people are more likely to stay in and party than go out. In olden days—the ’90s—people went straight from the beach to the tea dances, and from the tea dances they transitioned into night dancing until the crack of dawn. Was it a wilder time? I’m not sure, given all the tents that now pop up every summer all over the place. Oh, the wear and tear!

But there’s a clause for that too. It says something like: No large parties with accompanying structures such as tents, sound systems, etc., will be allowed without prior written consent of the landlord. Landlords, think of your lawn and insert that clause!

Also on the uptick and more common than in the past are the following: a pet deposit from the tenant for any dogs, cats, aquatics and exotics; tenant gets the beach sticker; tenant gets Tenant’s Insurance; tenant supplies a utility and services deposit for monthly household bills. This is not to be confused with the security deposit, which is for damages.

This summer, like every summer before it, Memorial Day weekend will come, and tenants won’t be able to wait to get here. You can spot them—they’re the ones with the wide eyes. Smart landlords will be the ones who are calm, cool and collected, and who are building that treehouse only for the kids-—in the fall.

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