Many of you have read my previous post admonishing you to “Pick Your Landlord Wisely.” Well, the same wisdom that recognizes the best landlord qualities also has to make the most of stubborn and inflexible landlords. Does that mean a tenant should run the other direction as fast as possible when he or she encounters one? No! What I do advise is that you make sure you have a good tenant rep broker getting in the mud on your behalf. If you end up with a good, thorough lease, the only thing the landlord can do to interfere with your tenancy will be to neglect their maintenance obligations. And your broker can even work in some lease language that will give you plenty of recourse should that situation ever arise.
I recently slogged through lease documentation that was a royal mess. The lease appeared to be a blend of two or three different lease contracts cobbled together and there were embarrassing flaws throughout: redundant language, paragraph numbering that was out of sequence, and a mash up of references to landlord/tenant and lessor/lessee. If that wasn’t aggravating enough, the landlord balked when I (and his own broker!) recommended changes to this “Frankenstein” lease to clean it up. Then he tried to sneak into the second round of lease comments some common area charges that were not included in the signed letter of intent (lease offer). Ugh!
If I can’t get logic and fairness to prevail, at some point I will recommend to my client that we walk away from the deal because the final contract will be full of holes and the captain of the ship – the landlord – cannot be trusted to keep the vessel afloat. But if your broker (together with your attorney in situations like this) can overcome the landlord’s stubborn attitude and get a solid lease signed, you should be fine except for a little queasiness from the turbulent negotiations. In the end, a watertight lease will stay upright in choppy seas.