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I am in the process of signing a lease on an apartment. Included in the lease documents is the standard Boston, MA, USA apartment condition form.

https://www.lrgboston.com/pdfs/Apartment%20Condition%20Statement%20Form.pdf

The form says we have 15 days after move in to return the form, completed and signed. Our move in date isn't for a few months, and we haven't had time to fully inspect the apartment, so I don't want to sign the condition statement yet (plus, the condition could change!).

The landlord wants us to sign it now along with the lease because "there have been issues where the tenants do not sign [the condition form on time] and claim they didn't know the form had to be returned within 15 days." We have in an email from the realtor that when we move in we will be allowed to fill out the form.

Should I sign this? My thinking is that I should not sign, because modifying a signed document after the signing date seems like forgery, but should ask if I can initial the page next to the opening paragraph to show that I have read and understand it must be returned within 15 days of move-in.

Would this work?

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It is not forgery to modify a signed document if you clearly indicate the date and nature of the changes, but the landlord could retain and rely on the original version, whoch would be to your disadvantage.

I would suggest writing and signing a letter in which you acknowledge receipt of the condition from, and indicate that you know that it must be filled out, signed and returned within 15 days after your move-in date. That should deal with the landlord's legitimate concerns.

Or you could write on the condition form "no inspection has been made as of {date}" and return it with that notation, which should protect you, retaining an unsigned copy for later use.

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Should I sign this? should ask if I can initial the page next to the opening paragraph to show that I have read and understand it must be returned within 15 days of move-in.

Would this work?

No, that is an unwarranted risk. A mark such as your initials may constitute sufficient evidence of your awareness and acceptance of the statements in the condition form. Contract disputes are decided typically on the basis of what is in a contract, that is, without external consideration of the parties' intent or their alleged --and oftentimes unverifiable-- "understanding".

If something goes wrong, it will be very hard (if at all possible) for you to prove that your initialing was only meant to acknowledge your commitment to fill the form timely. For instance, the landlord may as well prevail by alleging that you only put your initials because you were on a rush that day.

The landlord wants us to sign it now along with the lease because "there have been issues

The landlord's failure to enforce his requirement regarding other tenants is not a good reason to jeopardize yourself in the form of blind endorsements.

The other answer is right in that signing a promise [to fill the form] would be a better option, but even that suggestion is redundant because the form already establishes a deadline of "fifteen (15) days after you move in.

The form is even explicit about the court implications of missing the deadline. The landlord would only need to prove that you were made aware of that requirement, and it already seems feasible for him to do so by producing your email interactions with the realtor.

  • I suggested signing a promise to fill the form, and he responded saying "that is what the language at the top of the form already covers." The language is slightly ambiguous, am I reading it wrong? – jhch Jun 6 at 15:41
  • @JohnHughes The landlord is right about that. Hence my remark that signing a separate promise that you will fill the condition form is redundant. Could you pinpoint what part seems ambiguous to you? – Iñaki Viggers Jun 6 at 19:07
  • "This is a statement of the condition of the premises you have leased or rented. [...] If it is not correct, you must attach a separate signed list of any damage which you believe exists in the premises. THIS STATEMENT must be returned to the lessor or his agent within fifteen (15) days." Is the final sentence here referring to the to-be-appended list, or the statement itself? – jhch Jun 6 at 19:13
  • @JohnHughes It means both (that is, if applicable, also the "separate signed list of any damage"). Since you haven't fully inspected the condition of the apartment, don't sign anything just yet. Just make sure you comply with the deadline: within 15 days after you receive the form or within 15 days after you move in, whichever is later. – Iñaki Viggers Jun 6 at 19:44

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