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How much I should pay for early terminating the lease

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

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How much I should pay for early terminating the lease

Postby kongla » Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:33 pm

I have to break the lease which ends on June 30. I gave a 60-day notice on Jan 26 of my intent to vacate on March 28. When I signed the lease, the leasing office person told me that I only need to pay one month rent as penalty for early termination. I confirmed that with a different person in the leasing office when I gave the written notice in Jan. However, when I tried to go through the detail of vacating today, another person told me I have to pay all amount due until end of June. I don’t have any written proof of what the previous two persons told me about the one-month penalty because I was informed verbally. I read my lease, here are the clauses for breaking the lease:

1) You pay all rent due during the sixty-day notice period. 2) You tender, with your notice, the full amount that would have been due for the last month of the lease term. This amount shall constitute liquidated damages and is not a penalty.

I am confused about 2). Does it mean I have to pay rent only for one month or for all months until the end of my lease? Was I misinformed when I signed the lease or the third person misinterpret the lease? I have already paid the rent for Feb and March. How much else i need to pay?
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Re: How much I should pay for early terminating the lease

Postby TenantNet » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:00 pm

In theory, tenants owe rent for the complete term of the lease. It used to be that LLs had to show they made attempts to reduce the economic harm they would suffer as a result of the tenant leaving early, but that's no longer the case. Of course what is the law really only matters if a situation ends up in court.

Whether the verbal waivers you received by two people can trump the lease language, probably depends on the seniority of the people who said that.

First, remember that you probably have at least a month's rent (plus interest) on deposit. It's not uncommon for LLs to refuse to return that, and it's also common for tenants to use that money for the last month's rent. Yes, most leases say tenant's are not allowed to do that, but it happens a lot.

Also remember they can't charge you MORE than the total of the lease period. March through June is four months. They can't charge more than that. If you pay for those 4 months (or 3 months plus the deposit that you likely won't get back), then you are renting the place to the end of term and they can't rent it out, even though you are not sleeping there.

If they want a rent stab unit back early, they should pay YOU. Otherwise, I'd let it stay empty until the end of the term. (you could also seek to sublet for four months, but that's another discussion).

"1) ... sixty-day notice period"

You didn't include that clause here. What does it say? We would have to see all pages of the lease in order to offer an opinion.

Also keep in mind the LL might try to report this on your credit report, but you might be able to fight that.

If it were me, I wouldn't pay any more, but you're not me, and you might have other considerations.
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Re: How much I should pay for early terminating the lease

Postby kongla » Tue Mar 05, 2019 4:29 pm

Here are all clauses on the lease:

you can still terminate the Lease provided:
1) Your account is in good standing and there is no outstanding balance.
2) You give the Landlord at least sixty days' written notice of your intent to vacate.
3) You pay all rent due during the sixty-day notice period.
4) You tender, with your notice, the full amount that would have been due for the last month of the lease term. This amount shall constitute liquidated damages and is not a penalty

I did not give the security deposit as I purchased the SureDeposit Bond. Sublease is not allowed. The leasing office persons I talked with before seem to have left and they hired new staff now. I have to sign a form and turn in the keys when I move out. I am afraid that they will force me to pay all the rent to June.
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Re: How much I should pay for early terminating the lease

Postby TenantNet » Tue Mar 05, 2019 5:20 pm

Of course sublets are allowed. It's the law and that trumps any lease provision. Search for it on this site. See New York State Real Property Law 226-b ... however there is a procedure to follow (most tenants ignore that, especially if they will be out in a few months).

Bonds act as guarantors. Read the papers on that closely to see if they can come after you if the LL demand they pay. However, I don't know what either the LL or bond company can do. Tenants probably have some recourse. In other words, don't believe everything they say.

Doesn't matter if they have a new staff. You relied on the word of a person in authority. However proving it might be difficult. But OTOH, that only matters if you end up in court.

In general DO NOT SIGN anything, EVER, unless you have to by law. Of course there are exceptions. I can't say without seeing the form itself.

Turning over the keys is essentially the same as returning possession to the LL, and you need to get a receipt from them. Otherwise they might come after you later (up to six years) claiming you owe the unpaid rent. I would also have a witness to the exchange (have the witness sign an affidavit, or at lease a letter), and record it on your phone (hidden of course).

They can't force you to do anything. Seriously, tenants come to me every day claiming they are being forced. That's baloney. If they don't take the keys, then have your witness and phone record the offer.

However, if you pay the four months (remember, nothing more), then the place is still yours until the end of the lease. Even if you're not "living there," you would still have occupancy and legal possession until the end of the lease. If they want it - and there are good reasons for them to want it - have them pay you. That would be like a mini buy-out.

What you provided above is probably not the actual language of the lease, yes? But to the extent it properly summarized the clauses, my non-legal interpretation is that you give the LL 60 days [written] notice, pay rent for those 60 days, and ONE month penalty, then they agree to waive any other charges.

They claim it's for the last month, but it doesn't really matter what they call it. In your case you are close to the end of the lease anyway. So if you gave notice on Jan 26, paid rent for Feb and March (the 60 days), and also for June (the penalty), you would get April and May off. That is how I read what you have above. If they try for anything more than that, then tell them where to go.

There might be ways to get the June payment taken off as well, but that might involve a fight.
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Re: How much I should pay for early terminating the lease

Postby kongla » Tue Mar 05, 2019 8:26 pm

Thanks. I did not pay the rent of June at the time I gave them the notice because nobody asked for that and I did not fully understand the lease myself at that time. So they may use this to argue that I did not comply with the lease.

A lesson is learnt that never believing in any words from the leasing office people.
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