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Early Lease Termination

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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Early Lease Termination

Postby AussieBoy » Mon Jan 11, 2021 9:47 am

Hi, 

I plan to ask for the early termination of my lease. I understand that LL has a duty to mitigate economic damage and has to prove that he tried finding another tenant before asking for the remainder of the rent. How would you recommend I go about it? Should I just give him a 60-day written notice and then wait for him to sue me if he can't find another tenant? 
My apartment is rent-stabilized.

Thank you.
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Re: Early Lease Termination

Postby TenantNet » Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:07 pm

I moved your post to the RS forum. You are correct that the LL now has a duty to mitigate, but that might be as simple as placing an ad in a local paper, or putting a sign out in front of the building. There are no absolute rules.

Also, the duty to mitigate really only comes up in a court proceeding where the LL sues a tenant for unpaid rent. In your case, it would have to be Civil Court or Supreme Court and not Housing Court, which by its name, seeks an eviction. That can't happen if you are already gone.

You also have to be mindful of any deposit yo have and if you had paid additional months upfront. If there are real damages, you would be responsible for those, but LLs have a habit of inventing fake damages, so you really need to take many photos and have a walkthrough with the LL (and you should have a witness with you). You should ask for a walkthrough and document the request; it they decline, then it would be hard for them to make fake claims.

As for notice, first check your lease to see what it specifies. Also there are other alternative, like assignment of the rest of your lease to a new tenant.

On mitigation, see this thread: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=9801
Prior to June 2019, the courts had ruled out mitigation requirements for LLs. But since then the laws changed. So the last two posts should reflect the new laws.

As for notice, see this: viewtopic.php?f=24&t=13981. Download the Lebovitz PDF, part one and read it thoroughly, especially the parts on mitigation and notice. Notice can be different if one is the LL or tenant, if the unit is RS or not, and if it's in NYC or not. So be careful.

As for suit, he can sue until you leave or if you've built up time without paying rent. If the latter, see issues surrounding COVID laws as they apply to tenants. Understand that the courts are either closed and/or backlogged, so there would likely be some delay (however I hear that civil/supreme courts are still operating via video.
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Re: Early Lease Termination

Postby 10ants » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:40 am

I'd start by asking nicely. If he says yes, great! If he says no, you might consider offering him some money in order to cap your liability and avoid lawsuits -- often this is cheaper than paying a lawyer.

Get an agreement in writing before you leave though, and give as much notice as possible.

Finally, many LLs will allow you to leave early as long as you leave in the summer so as to get their units onto a summer renewal schedule
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Re: Early Lease Termination

Postby TenantNet » Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:12 am

Paying someone money can be a two-way street. Unless there's a legal settlement agreement, the issue could come back. I'm not suggesting the tenant go in blazing with legal jargon and lawyers, but to "ask nicely" is the same as "take advantage of me, please."

The tenant should also understand the LL's perspective, even if it's questionable. That's so they can understand possible approaches during negotiations. However, understand that many landlords have gotten 25 years of mostly illegal deregulation and have been charging illegal rents that are often 4x or 5x what the rent should be.

While some LLs may deserve more understanding, many do not as their coffers have been full for many years.
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