Help me break my lease..
March 8, 2011 4:28 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to get out of my lease and it's a bit complicated. Explanation inside..

I would like to approach my landlord and ask if I can break ad reassign my lease.

Here are the details:

- The lease is under my name only.
- I have been in my apartment for 3+ years
-The lease ends July 31, 2011
-I am currently subletting my room and I live with my boyfriend
- It is a four bedroom apartment and i have 3 roommates and 1 subletter.
- The roommates and subletters are listed as occupants.
-The management company is not aware that I don't live there full time.
-I "inherited" the lease. Basically-I was living there as an occupant and the leaseholder wanted to move. When the lease expired-I asked if I could take it over. They let me do it without bothering to check my income...etc. The building manager who processed it is no longer there. From what I understand (from the current building manager) he should have asked me to full income/asset information.
-2 of my roommates and the subletter (3 out of 4 of the current individuals) want to renew the lease in August.
-They don't qualify for the rent technically but they can find a guarantor (the building needs the monthly rent x 40 as income combined)

I'd like to approach the building management and ask if I can assign the lease now but I"m worried about the repercussions. They technically can't prove that I don't live there full time (I still get mail there, my paychecks have the address..etc) but I'm worried that I will open a can of worms and that they will start to investigate why 5 people live in a 4 bedroom apartment.

I'm also worried that they will allow me to break my lease-but that they won't let the roommates take it over. They can probably put the apartment on the market for $500 more a month.

I'd like to get out of the lease-I'm tired of having to deal with collecting late rent, making sure the apartment is well maintained, dealing with the dishwasher breaking..etc.. However, I do not want to screw my roommates-I want to get out AND have them live there still.

I keep analyzing "what's the worse that can happen" and I keep coming up with visions of the roommates being homeless because I approached the building about possibly breaking the lease.

Suggestions? Have you ever been in this situation?
posted by duddes02 to Work & Money (15 answers total)
Is there a reason you can't find your own subletter?
posted by Think_Long at 4:32 PM on March 8, 2011

Depending on what state you're in, if the current occupants are already known to the landlord and have a history of established residency there, they can't simply be kicked out and made homeless.

Check your state's tenant laws (and your city's, as some cities have tenant protection policies that are even more favorable than states') to be sure of the possible consequences, but ultimately you have to do what's best for you. You're not "screwing" anyone as long as you are up front about what you want to do and what their options are.
posted by amyms at 4:36 PM on March 8, 2011

Response by poster: I have a sublettor-but I just want to relinquish the responsibility of the lease in its entirety.
posted by duddes02 at 4:36 PM on March 8, 2011

I was in a similar situation. I told my landlord that I planned on moving and that I had someone willing to take my place as the leaseholder. She said that was fine.
I'm guessing as long as they're not losing any money and you're not skipping out on rent, then probably don't care.
It may be a little different since I was dealing with a landlord rather than a building management company. Sometimes building management companies like to slap on as many penalties and fees as possible to rake in the dough.

Why not just tell building management that you would like to move and ask them if it would be alright if you signed the lease over to someone else's name. If they say no, then just continue what youve been doing for another few months.
posted by KogeLiz at 4:39 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Where are you located?
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:49 PM on March 8, 2011

Response by poster: New York City
posted by duddes02 at 4:53 PM on March 8, 2011

Did you inform your landlord within 30 days of your roommates moving in that they lived there? If not, it looks like they have no rights to stay, unfortunately. You might be able to inform the landlord now and then break the lease and they'd be protected, but I'm not sure.

A tenant must inform the landlords of the name of any occupant within 30 days after the occupant has moved into the apartment or within 30 days of a landlord’s request for this information. If the tenant named in the lease moves out, the remaining occupant has no right to continue in occupancy without the landlord’s express consent. Landlords may limit the total number of people living in an apartment to comply with legal overcrowding standards. Real Property Law § 235-f.

From here.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:56 PM on March 8, 2011

Response by poster: The landlord is aware of the occupants already...they processed their background checks. :)
posted by duddes02 at 4:59 PM on March 8, 2011

Wait, I see that your roommates are listed. So they might be protected.

I'd recommend calling the attorney general's office. This is one of the areas they oversee, and they'd be able to tell you for sure.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:59 PM on March 8, 2011

I'm guessing this is not a rent stabilized apartment? You are right to be cautious about how you handle notifying your landlord. Much depends on your answer to whether or not you're rent stabilized and, if you're not, then much depends on what your lease says about roommates, sublettors, and not living in the apartment full time. Hate to say it, but there's a good chance you are going to need a lawyer to really parse out the repercussions of breaking your lease, both for you and your roommates. However, let's start with whether you're stabilized.
posted by lassie at 5:10 PM on March 8, 2011

Response by poster: The apartment is not rent stabilized....
posted by duddes02 at 5:26 PM on March 8, 2011

Why don't you ask to add the roommates as parties to the lease now? The landloard would likely welcome the extra security that offers.

Then, when they renew the lease in July, take your name off it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:39 PM on March 8, 2011

If one of your roommates is staying on and willing to have the lease transferred into his/her name, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Can't you just mention to the landlord that you're moving out and ask if one of your roommates can take over as the primary tenant/leaseholder. I would think that this happens pretty frequently in sharehouse type situations and landlords would rather keep current and decent tenants than going through the hassle of finding new ones.
posted by emd3737 at 8:41 PM on March 8, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks-I've sent an email to the landlord asking what the transfer process would be. Crossing my fingers that it's easy!
posted by duddes02 at 8:49 PM on March 8, 2011

Response by poster: Update:
It's quite smooth actually-all I have to do is give them the name of the new primary leaseholder. They also want to refund my deposit and collect the new deposit from the new primary.

That was easy!
posted by duddes02 at 12:20 PM on March 9, 2011

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