Real Estate Roundtable: How to Protect Your Hamptons Home When Renting It Out

rental agreement form
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With an eye toward the summer rental season in the Hamptons, our roundup of East End real estate experts answer the question…

What advice would you give homeowners who would like to rent their home for the summer season but are concerned about “wear and tear” on their property?

“There is always some form of ‘wear and tear.’ The question is how much? I think it’s important to vet the prospective renter. If you feel comfortable with the tenant, many issues can be resolved. For example, I recall a rental where the tenant’s dog tore up part of the lawn. Besides the tenant paying extra security for the dog, he had a landscaper put sod down that if he hadn’t said anything, you wouldn’t have known there was any damage. That was definitely a case of a good tenant. Another important piece of advice for the homeowner is to make sure they procure a town rental permit. In the event there is a problem the homeowner has a legal foot to stand on.”—John Christopher, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons, LLC.

“First, in my personal opinion, you need to de-clutter your home—put away the majority of personal things, even while showing, so the potential rental doesn’t feel overwhelmed looking at your stuff. The house should be ready to be shown on short notice, should always feel clean, neat and organized. Some homeowners and renters like to get slipcovers for their furniture. Restoration Hardware and Crate & Barrel both make great covers.”—Lynn November, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, Douglas Eliman Real Estate.

“First, remove your Rembrandts and pack away your precious Fabergés—if it is highly valuable, either physically or sentimentally, and you will worry about it all summer, take it out of the home! Buy linen sofa/chair covers—available very affordably to protect furnishings. If you have pristine floors, you can request that tenants don’t wear shoes/heels inside the home. For high-end homes, request tenants take out renters insurance for additional coverage and peace of mind.”—Maz Crotty, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, Nest Seekers International.

“Require an appropriate amount of money for the security deposit to cover your risk of damage to the property (proportional to the home value), place that deposit in a separate account that is not commingled with your personal monies, notice the tenant of the name and address of the account and amount of such deposit (pursuant to the notice provision of the lease), as required by the General Obligation Law (GOL) of the State at section 7-103, or plan to give the money back to the tenant regardless of the ‘wear and tear’ on your property. Yes, failure to comply with GOL 7-103 has been consistently held by the courts to require the return of the deposit regardless of the existence of extensive damage to the property.

Most security deposits do not cover ‘wear and tear’ by way of a standard form lease and instead security deposits typically cover damage outside of ordinary ‘wear and tear.’ So, it’s incumbent on the homeowner to have a lease drafted that expressly states what is covered by the security deposit in terms of damage, including certain express aspects of wear and tear (i.e. stains to the carpet). It might be a good idea for the lease to require the tenant to pay for the landlord’s cleaning service provider to regularly maintain the property throughout the term of the lease to mitigate wear, tear and damage (also lets the landlord have eyes on the property to get feedback on how the tenant is treating their property). Consequently, a landlord can protect their property, but only through having a properly drafted lease that governs the rental and thereafter only by managing the property precisely according the rules set forth in the lease.”—Andrew Lieb, Esq., MPH, Lieb at Law, P.C.

“If you want to rent your home, I suggest you take at least 10% security deposit against damage. If you are going to allow pets, then 20% security is often requested. Make sure you have the following clauses: no smoking, no parties over 50 persons, and no tents. The most important item I find is references from local homeowners they have previously rented from. The past is always the best way to predict the future.”—Alan Schnurman, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, Saunders & Associates.

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