Now, real estate agents say some residents may [+] want to leave for good. Getty. The rental market in New York City could be in for a beating as long-time …

What terms should you ask for when signing a lease for a Manhattan apartment?

Great question. Upon acceptance of a rental application, renters are presented with a comprehensive lease for the agreed rent and terms of use.

The vast majority of renters will simply sign the lease, most without even reading it, content to have secured an apartment in a market where available apartments don’t last long (and where some apartments don’t even reach the market before someone grabs it).

A NYC apartment lease is generally comprised of two distinct parts. The first part is a “standard form” lease promulgated by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), which is basically an association of landlords. This lease is expertly drafted by REBNY attorneys and designed to protect the landlord’s interests, covering every conceivable situation that can occur during a lease term.

The second part is called a “rider” and is drafted by the individual landlord for its own properties. This covers everything not covered by the broader standard-form lease, and is customized for an individual landlord, building, tenant or apartment.

There are two sets of terms for a lease: the business terms and the legal terms. All terms are negotiable. However, attempting to negotiate the legal terms will signal to a landlord potential for accepting a litigious tenant. If this happens, especially in current market conditions where renters are abundant, your chances of getting the apartment are close to zero.

But business terms are always negotiable. The problem is that most renters do not know how to negotiate and/or are afraid to do so for fear of losing the apartment. Landlords in NYC typically present a lease with the understanding that “these are our terms, take it or leave it” which is not necessarily true.

Negotiation is a “give and take” process. If you want something, you have to offer something in return. This requires an understanding of what landlords want besides an acceptable rent. For example, landlords loathe “turnover costs,” or those costs associated with apartment preparation and leasing. Here you can give something of value in exchange for, say, a lower rent. If the apartment you chose is presently occupied you can offer to take the apartment “as-is” and waive the [costly] cleaning and painting. If you are presented with a 1-year lease, you can offer to sign a 2 or even 3-year lease (perhaps with fixed increases each year) in exchange for a lower starting rent.

These are just some examples. There are many possibilities for negotiating more favorable terms if you are bold enough.