I figured that after all that writing and worrying about the lease, the least you deserved was an update on how things went. Its so easy to write a blog when things are bad, but when they go your way, blogging becomes difficult.
On the way to meeting my landlord, I called my Rabbi to ask him for his advice. He suggested that taking a consulting posture would probably the most effective way to handle him. Ask him what he agrees to and what he doesn't agree to, and after each answer, write it down on a piece of paper. Then, if things aren't the way you want them, you can decide not to sign yet.
I sat down with the landlord, who, with his family present, was acting like the boss
(Sefardi thing). I went through *his* lease line by line (which was obviously written by an evil lawyer). To my surprise, for some reason he thought what was in the evil lease was the law of New York because his lawyer told him, "do not cross *anything* out." Later on (as you'll see), it occurred to me that the lawyer never said not to put anything *in*.
So we negotiated line by line, and as he agreed to things (or disagreed to things) we wrote down what he said. In the end, after everything was said and done, I felt that the lease terms as agreed to by the landlord were fair, and we were willing to be flexible and give in to certain things in return for getting the security of a lease with an option to renew.
I said, "We are ready to agree to what we have discussed. Now let us write what we agreed to into the lease." When I started crossing things out that the landlord agreed to in our prior conversation minutes earlier, he started flipping out. "No! Don't cross it out!"
When I explained to him that the lease does not reflect our agreement, he said, "no! it's in there what we agreed." I thought to myself, "...is he an idiot?!? The lease says the opposite of what he agreed to!" So I started writing things into the lease in VERY EASY LANGUAGE.
My logic was that if the printed lease said something like, "Tenant is not allowed to have guests; if the tenant has a guest, tenant will pay landlord $50 per guest per occurrence" and I wrote in at the bottom of that clause "Tenant is allowed to have guests AT NO CHARGE," then if the matter ever went to court, obviously the written-in statement is what would be enforced because 1) it was obvious that what was written in was written in after the printed terms, and 2) that the written-in terms was what was agreed to when the lease was signed, even if they conflict with the printed terms.
So that was the jist of our entire lease. "Tenant is not allowed to have guests... TENANT IS ALLOWED TO HAVE GUESTS," "Tenant pays for all utilities... TENANT PAYS ONLY FOR ELECTRIC, GAS, AND 1/2 OF WATER, LANDLORD PAYS THE REST OF THE UTILITIES," and so on.
After a while, the landlord got tired of me writing things in and he started accusing me of changing the lease which was meant to protect him, and he told me "either sign the lease or move out." At that point, most of the issues were resolved, and we limited our liability to the Security Deposit even if we trashed the place and moved out early (which we would never do). While the lease made it VERY EASY for us to lose the security deposit, we decided that this was a risk we were willing to take, because the lease as it was with the changes was much more fair than it was when we began.
I went into a side room with my wife, and we agreed that the way the lease was, it was acceptable and we were willing to sign it as it was. So we signed the lease and gave the security deposit and the last month's rent.
So now we live here. My wife was so excited, and so was I. I am glad this issue is finally resolved, because it weighed heavily on my shoulders each day and took much emotional energy leaving me tired and lifeless. Thank G-d I worked hard on this issue, we stuck hard to our guns, and we were flexible when we needed to be fair.