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Seeking advice: my landlord's a jerk and I need to break my lease

Posted by Andrew Jewell on September 08, 1999 at 19:22:19:

I rent a studio apartment in a brownstone building in Brooklyn, NY. I signed a one-year lease back in December 1996, then recently signed a new
one-year lease that is valid through April 2000. My problem is that I plan to leave New York before my lease expires, and I don't want to pay the
rent on the remaining months. I realize that, by having signed the lease, I technically owe my landlord a year's worth of rent. I'm also aware that
I'm not allowed to sublet the apartment without his approval, which I will never get. Consequently, I find myself in a predicament.

I should note that my living arrangement is highly unusual. My landlord is a therapist, and the building in which I live serves as his office during
the week. Of the eight units in the building, only three are rented to tenants like myself. The others units are used by my landlord to receive his
patients during office hours. Because my landlord wishes the building to function as a professional office during the week, as opposed to a
residential apartment building, he imposes rather draconian rules on his tenants. Essentially, tenants are asked not to make any noise whatsover
during office hours, which extend as late as 10:00 PM. Thus, no talking in the stairwell, no loud music, no parties, no vacuuming, etc. Past
experience has taught me that pizza and a few laughs with a friend on a Friday night in my studio will result in a knock on my door and a reprimand
from my landlord. Of course, the rules don't operate in the other direction: when group therapy sessions get noisy, I have no right as a tenant to
intervene.

To date, I have chosen to cooperate with my landlord's wishes, even though none of these absurd rules is written into my lease. I've preferred
to simply avoid the confrontation. My thinking is that, should my landlord refuse to let me out of my lease, I could "threaten" to behave as a
"normal" tenant -- for example, invite a few friends over and have a small party while my landlord is holding session. I'm pretty certain he'd blow
a fuse. The idea is to make him ultimately beg me to leave.

Is my approach (basically, extortion) reasonable? Based on the information I've provided, can anyone think of another approach? Do I have any
other options? I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone could provide. Thank you.

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