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Negotiating exit from apt after end of lease

NYC Housing Court Practice/Procedures

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Negotiating exit from apt after end of lease

Postby dbk » Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:14 am

I am trying to figure out the worst case scenario here, should my landlord attempt eviction or take us to court.

Background:
I have been in the same market rate apartment for 3 years and was planning on staying for a 4th. Our building went through a shake-up in management last year during our lease renewal and we never got a copy of our executed lease returned to us (though we have a copy without the landlords signature and e-mails from the negotiations). The current management claims only to have our 2011 lease. In any case, our 'lease' is supposed to expire at the end of the month. Around the 10th of the month (while I was out of the country) we got notice that they want to raise our rent by 20% starting on September 1 and are unwilling to lower that increase.

We are not willing to pay that price and are willing to move. However, their timing is pretty bad - I'm a PhD student and I consult thus making a housing search during the academic semester nearly impossible. Had we gotten earlier notice we could have figured out how to move by September 1. My next good window to move is January 1. We are willing to pay a 10% increase for those months but find the 20% both unaffordable and distasteful.

My questions:
-Which lease is in effect and does that affect our holdover status?
-If we don't reach a mutual agreement on price but continue to send payment at or above our current price, how much exposure do we have should we go to court? What if they don't accept payment?
-If they start eviction proceedings, how long will that take? We will be out in 4 months anyway - is that worth the LL's time?
dbk
 
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:29 am

The only legal way to evict you is to take you to court. It's not either/or.

If the LL offered you a lease renewal and you accepted (signing and returning the lease), that should be binding even if the LL never sent you an executed copy. That's my understanding although the LL might not agree to it (and who is to say what a court might say). The lease you accepted would be at the rent in that lease offer, not a more recent amount offered from the LL.

One tenant lawyer said (on a different forum):

It is basic contract law that an offer and an acceptance comprise the mutual assent necessary to form a bilateral contract. “Ordinarily one party, by making an offer, assents in advance; the other, upon learning of the offer, assents by accepting it and thereby forms the contract” (Restatement [Second] of Contracts § 23, comment [a]). “Unless the offer provides otherwise, . . . an acceptance made in a manner and by a medium invited by an offer is operative and completes the manifestation of mutual assent as soon as put out of the offeree’s possession, without regard to whether it ever reaches the offeror” (Restatement [Second] of Contracts § 63). The latter proposition is commonly known as the “mailbox rule.”

If the lease renewal was for a period longer than one year, General Obligations Law § 5-703 (2) requires it to be in writing.


If they take you to court, it should not be too difficult to stretch it out until January 1, but it's not a given. Usually rational LLs and rational LL lawyers will agree to 3-4 months. But again, how many rational LL do you find?
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Postby dbk » Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:53 am

Thanks for the speedy reply!

I just need some clarification on one part of your answer:

The lease you accepted would be at the rent in that lease offer, not a more recent amount offered from the LL.


I'm taking that to mean that should we go to court, a judge would view that number as our last mutually agreed upon price and would not be required to enforce a higher price for the months past the end of our lease, correct?
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:28 am

No one can say how a judge would view it. Many judges just ignore the law, especially for unrepresented tenants. That's why it's always better to have a lawyer.

You agreed to a price in a renewal offer. That is what the rent should be.
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Postby dbk » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:09 am

To sum up, if there is no agreement on the new price, the price in the last agreement is the only one that remains legally enforceable unless/until a judge finds cause to change it.
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:38 pm

I wouldn't make that assumption. You were offered a lease and you accepted it. That's the rent.
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Postby dbk » Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:23 pm

Forgive my confusion.
We were offered a lease last year and we accepted it. That was the rent (regardless if the landlord signed it). That lease expires at the end of Aug.
Last week we were offered a more expensive lease renewal and we have not accepted it, but we are not in a position to leave right away either. What now determines the rent?
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:28 pm

As I said, the first lease, the one you accepted and returned. Of course it might come down to if the LL received it, which they will deny. But you have a copy, and emails, and hopefully you returned it by cert. mail. The last part is not fatal, but add all the evidence up.
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