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My wife is doing a master in New York and we have 2 weeks here, and we found an apartment but we are confused with the way they handle the contracts.

First they told us via email that pets are allowed but the contract they later sent said that pets are not allowed. After we asked about that (because we don't want to sign it as we have a pet) they said that we can cross out that part.

Is this a common practice in USA? In my country when this happens the contract is rewritten and reprinted.

Another doubt is, we are running this contract with a broker, so they are a third party company, but my wife and I are the first who need to sign, is it possible for the landlord to un-cross out what we crossed out about the allowance of pets?

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2 Answers 2

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It isn't uncommon to interlineate contract language, or to cross out contract language, with the initials of the parties to the contract.

This is normally only done with smaller businesses, however, where there is someone who has the authority to do so. Some contracts, such as insurance contracts, for example, have to have their language approved by state regulators before they can be used and can't be modified in that fashion.

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    @FrasesDeUrbanos Note the requirement for initials prevents cross-outs without consent (though proving that your initials weren't forged is another matter....)
    – Alan
    Jan 31, 2023 at 6:53
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    @Alan How do initial prevent cross-outs without consent? Do you know of a method of telling whether an initial was written before or after crossing out text? Maybe the initial was written down because one party wanted to change a word in the text, the other party crosses out the whole article and adds their initial... If you want to make sure of consent you should add a "changelog" and sign it too.
    – GACy20
    Jan 31, 2023 at 10:18
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    Cross-outs and other modifications without both sides consent is better prevented by each having their own copy. If a disagreement ended up in court, presenting a contract signed by both parties but not having the cross-out would be good evidence.
    – jpa
    Jan 31, 2023 at 10:56
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    @Turbo There are multiple ways that it can be done. Generally, interlineation and cross outs are used to avoid the cost and delay of returning a draft contract or lease to a lawyer. An addendum would often be lawyer drafted and not solve the problem. The idea of jpa of making a copy for each party or having a photo of the executed document immediately after it is executed would be a more viable tool.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 31, 2023 at 17:12
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    In this specific case, apartment rental contracts very often are standardized boilerplate forms. For that reason, crossing out a section or changing something by hand is much more common than in other types of contracts (every rental agreement I've ever signed has had at least one manual edit). I've even seen rental contract templates with an "initial here if changes made on this page" section pre-printed at the bottom of each page, which should indicate how common they are.
    – bta
    Feb 1, 2023 at 2:50
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Yes, but note that all parties should sign their initials and date next to the change, so that if it is later disputed no-one can claim the contract was fraudulently modified after signing. For the same reason you should get a copy of the exact version you signed, with changes, initials and final signature for your records.

You see this kind of things with small businesses using model contracts not well customized to their needs like landlords, but wouldn't see it in dealing with large businesses (where the contract for services is usually take it or leave it), or some specific contract negotiated with a lawyer like a freelancer.

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    How do you ensure that the other party doesn't change their mind and run you over by counter-signing the contract but not initialing along-side your initials where you have struck out text? It seems you would be stuck having to obey part of the contract you indicated you did not agree to, otherwise anybody could come along after the fact and just strike out and initial anything they liked?
    – Andy
    Jan 31, 2023 at 15:02
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    @Andy the contract should not be signed (by anyone) until all changes are made and initialed (by everyone).
    – Sneftel
    Jan 31, 2023 at 17:00
  • @Sneftel Interesting... I know with online contracts (e.g. Docusign) you pretty much have to sign and initial everything all in one go, i.e. the document isn't signed until you do. But I also don't think you can strike lines either, signing and initialing are your only options, so you would have to arrange for the originator of the document to make the modifications first. Since they usually sign last I suppose they would also be force to either initial and sign everything or the document would be incomplete...
    – Andy
    Feb 1, 2023 at 19:29
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    @Andy One can also put a signed contract in a printer and add new printed language to it. But if you keep your copy of the signed document and the other party modifies their copy then in case of dispute it should be obvious that they modified theirs and yours should prevail.
    – emory
    Feb 2, 2023 at 12:18

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