There are countless reasons why people have to relocate from one apartment to another. In many cases, people have to move to different cities or states for family, business, study-related matters, and even for personal reasons (we all have them). If you live in a home that you own, moving is a pretty simple task; all you need to do is find a new apartment and you are good to go. If you are a renter, however, things can get a little bit more complicated, especially when you need to move before your current lease is over. As basic as it may seem, a lease agreement in NYC is legally binding. Breaking a legal contract through improper procedures can incur legal charges. That being said, there are some things you can do to avoid such penalties. Here is a guide on how to break your lease in NYC and minimize the risk of any technical hiccups in the process.
1. Make time to read the lease
Reread your lease, and pay attention to the details regarding lease termination issues. Understanding what the agreement says is the first step to determine what procedures you have to take and how to appropriately approach your landlord to discuss it further.
2. Find a new tenant
Your landlord may be willing to let you go with minimum or no penalty charges if you provide a new tenant to continue or renew the lease agreement. Keep in mind that you must submit the request to your landlord beforehand, not after. As long as the new tenant is qualified (having no reasonable cause for disapproval), the landlord is required by New York State law to assign the lease to the new renter within 30 days of the request. Requirements for qualification are quite plentiful nowadays, so make sure the new tenant understands and is capable of fulfilling those requirements completely. If the task becomes too burdensome, you can also ask for some help from a rental broker.
3. Sublet the apartment
Rent-stabilized and market-rate tenants have the right to sublet their apartments (in most cases). Rent-stabilized tenants, however, can only sublet for limited period of time; in other words, you must show intention to return to the apartment once the sublet term ends. Subletting does not actually release you from lease contract, and you are still responsible for making the payments to your landlord. You are practically a middleman between the subletter and landlord. This option is useful for those who need to be free from the responsibility of their lease but is facing difficulty in breaking the lease agreement for whatever reason.
4. Inform your landlord about the urgent move, and ask to be set free
Tell your landlord about your urgent need to move. The expectation here is that the landlord has no complaint at all or is in fact happy to let you go without demanding early lease-termination penalty charges. There are two possible reasons for this: (1) the landlord wants to increase the rent on the apartment (known as a “vacancy increase”) and (2) the landlord wants to upgrade or renovate the apartment in order to increase the rent. In such circumstances, both you and the landlord will need to sign a “surrender agreement” stating that the lease termination is mutual and all parties are released from the lease contract obligations.
Breaking a lease in NYC can either be an easy or difficult process, depending on how well you understand the lease agreement and how the landlord reacts to your sudden plan to move. Usually, breaking a legal contract incurs some legal charges, but if you follow this guide you may be able to avoid any penalty. Also, if your landlord is reluctant and you deem it necessary, you can consult with a lawyer about how to break your lease in NYC to avoid more serious legal problems.