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Lease break and landlord's duty to mitigate damages

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Lease break and landlord's duty to mitigate damages

Postby leasebreakthrowaway » Tue Jul 06, 2021 11:51 am

Hi, I'm writing because I've been having an ongoing issue with my landlord and I'm not sure how to proceed. For some background info, I had a harassing neighbor situation escalate to physical aggression in early May, leading me to file a police report and vacate my apartment almost 2 months early (with 30+ days notice to my landlord). I vacated on June 6, and my lease is up on July 31. I had paid for the entire lease upfront due to poor credit, and I am now looking to get some of that money back from my landlord if she is able to find a tenant. I have reason to believe that she is either (a) lying to me about not having a tenant, or (b) not making an effort to actually find a tenant and just letting the apartment sit empty for the remainder of my lease.

She listed the apartment on standard apartment sites (Zillow, Trulia, etc) in late May at $200 higher than what I had been paying. On June 23, she took the listings down and I reached out a few days later to ask if she'd found a tenant, to which she replied that she had not. It's been almost 2 weeks and the listings are still down. I reached out again on Saturday to ask for an update and offer to help find a tenant, and she did not respond.

My question is: Would I have a case if I were to fight this in court and attempt to recoup some of that money? My argument would be that she is not making a "good faith" effort to find a new tenant as required by RPP § 227-e. That law also stipulates that she would need to make an effort to find a tenant at "fair market value or at the rate agreed to during the term of [my] tenancy, whichever is lower." She only listed the apartment for $200 higher than what I had been paying, never lowering the asking rent before taking the listing down completely. She has been evasive and is now just not responding to me, so I'm wondering what, if anything, I can do here.
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Re: Lease break and landlord's duty to mitigate damages

Postby TenantNet » Wed Jul 07, 2021 2:20 am

I'm mad. I wrote a detailed reply, but for some reason the system didn't take it and now it appears not to be recoverable. It's too late and I don't have the time or inclination to rewrite the entire thing. Sorry.

Bottom line is that what you describe might be iffy and depends on how much time and effort it would take to file a court case. It also depends on how much rent is at stake. It does seem as if the requirement to pay a full year's rent upfront is in itself illegal, and you might have a case on that.
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Re: Lease break and landlord's duty to mitigate damages

Postby leasebreakthrowaway » Wed Jul 07, 2021 10:15 am

No worries, thanks so much for replying at all! I have 1-2 months rent tied up here so I would like to pursue it in court if I have even a small chance of winning that back. Will keep an eye on the situation for the rest of the month and maybe try to talk to a housing lawyer. Thanks!
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Re: Lease break and landlord's duty to mitigate damages

Postby BubbaJoe123 » Wed Jul 07, 2021 2:03 pm

Assuming the lease started August 1, 2020, then requiring the year upfront is definitely illegal.

https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/GOB/7-108 (see paragraph a)

https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/c ... nt-law.pdf (see top of page 4)
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Re: Lease break and landlord's duty to mitigate damages

Postby TenantNet » Wed Jul 07, 2021 4:45 pm

Yes, that is baked into the 2019 HSTPA, but I remember seeing old court cases where it also was illegal. I just don't have them at my fingertips, and maybe what I saw was limited to RS tenants.
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