renter/subletter issue in Brooklyn
September 2, 2008 1:43 PM   Subscribe

NYC: i have a weird rent/sublet situation and would like some advice on how to protect myself, stuff, and money WITHOUT signing a lease. read on...

i'm moving in with a friend/acquaintance and will be able to pay rent week to week, or month to month. i DO NOT want to sign a lease because 1) i do not want to be tied down to a living situation and 2) the landlord is in the process of selling and i really just don't want to deal with him and the process that goes along with landlords in general.

HOWEVER, i am a bit concerned now about the landlord's and other house mates ability to give me the boot. is there any sort of document i can sign/make the roomates and landlord sign--SHORT OF A LEASE OR LIVING AGREEMENT THAT IS BINDING ON MY PART-- that will ensure the money i pay each month will be refunded or prorated if they do kick me out? i don't want to be pushy with them, as i definitely will benefit from this situation, but at the same time i don't want to put my money at risk. HELP[?]
posted by slograffiti to Work & Money (11 answers total)

I'm not sure why they would want to make agreements with you that were binding on them, considering that you don't want to make agreements with them that are binding on you. Is there something I'm missing here?
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:10 PM on September 2, 2008 [5 favorites]

No. You're asking for a lease without the responsibilities.
posted by electroboy at 2:15 PM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

That is a risk you are going to have to take. However, can you be the one to deliver the cash directly to the landlord? If you are talking a month's rent or less, it's really not that big of a financial risk to you (even though it probably seems like it now).
posted by mattbucher at 2:19 PM on September 2, 2008

You're definitely trying to have your cake and eat it too. I'm also unclear on how you're going to get anything out of the landlord in terms of obligations withotu "dealing with him" and the "process" that you think "goes along with landlords in general" which is a phrase I'm really not sure how to interpret.

You may well be able to get away with some kind of lease that's explicitly month-to-month, and says that you can be ejected at any time but that if that happens, you'll be entitled to prorated rent. Landlords, selling or not, are human beings, and can be negotiated with. But there is no way in heck you're going to be able to get away with something that's binding on the other parties but not on you, unless they're impossibly and irrationally cooperative or idiots.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:21 PM on September 2, 2008

I am with Sidhedevil on this one.

The only place I am aware of that will accept a deal like this is a motel or hotel. Pretty much everywhere else would rather not let you have your cake quite so readily whilst you eat it.

For anyone to care about what you want, you need to make a couple promises to them. The lease is normally where these promises are made. Without any promises, they are just setting themselves up to be screwed (imagine yourself in that situation).
posted by milqman at 2:22 PM on September 2, 2008

Even if they were dumb enough to sign an agreement that benefits only you, it could cost you more than is worthwhile to employ the legal apparatus involved in enforcing such an agreement. This is exactly where a "gentleman's agreement" would be the most expedient. Unfortunately that would require you to behave like a gentleman.
posted by randomstriker at 2:23 PM on September 2, 2008

ThePinkSuperHero has it right there for you. If you don't sign a lease, and the landlord accepts your rent, you are month to month. They have to give you 30 days notice if they want you out. You should make out a check to the landlord, not the roomate when you pay so you have some kind of record.
posted by lee at 2:31 PM on September 2, 2008

You want a periodic tenancy (usually month-to-month, but depending on local law can probably be any period you and the landlord agree to, like biweekly or quarterly). Under most local laws you cannot be booted out without a notice equivalent to the length of the agreed period, so 30 days for month-to-month. Obviously this means that you won't have to worry about getting your rent back after paying too much; of course the security deposit is another matter.

Periodic tenancy is NOT a lease, but it IS an agreement, under which both you and the landlord have certain legal rights and responsibilities. Be sure you know what those are.
posted by dhartung at 4:00 PM on September 2, 2008

Actually, the chances are good that what your roommate is doing by taking your money and letting you live there is an illegal sublet in New York, and could get both of you evicted, technically, if discovered. Subleases and roommates generally require the permission of the landlord or property manager.

You may not like dealing with leases and landlords, but you have to if you want to live in something other than a hotel or a squat, unless you buy your own place.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:21 AM on September 3, 2008

(Your roommate, who is presumably on a lease already, should examine the terms of that lease regarding having roommates)
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:23 AM on September 3, 2008

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