How much notice is required when leaving a month-to-month apartment?
February 14, 2012 7:40 AM   Subscribe

I've been living in a NYC apartment for six years without a signed lease. Now I want to leave. What are my obligations about giving notice to my current landlord?

My husband and I live in a two-family house in Queens, and this is the only apartment we've had since moving to this city. When I got the apartment, I was ready to sign a lease, but my landlords (who own the house and live on one of the floors) balked. This area is very old world, where deals are made with a handshake. So, fine, I was OK with a gentleman's agreement, seeing as how I wasn't sure, at the time, that we wanted to stay here for very long.

Now we want to move, and the management company of the new apartment wants us to start a lease on the 15th of this month. If we give the old landlords 30-days notice from today or tomorrow and only pay for half the rent of next month, does that fulfill our legal obligation? Or is there a law I'm missing that says that we have to pay for the rest of this month and all of next month despite not having any sort of written agreement? And would they be entitled to withhold our deposit if we just pay through the 15th of next month?

I know YANML, but any links to relevant laws would be very helpful. Thanks!
posted by zerbinetta to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Tenants who do not have leases and pay rent on a monthly basis are called "month-to-month" tenants. In localities without rent regulations, tenants who stay past the end of a lease are treated as month-to-month tenants if the landlord accepts their rent. (Real Property Law § 232-c)

A month-to-month tenancy outside New York City may be terminated by either party by giving at least one month’s notice before the expiration of the tenancy. For example, if the landlord wants the tenant to move out by November 1 and the rent is due on the first of each month, the landlord must give notice by September 30. In New York City, 30 days’ notice is required, rather than one month.

The termination notice need not specify why the landlord seeks possession of the apartment, only that the landlord elects to terminate the tenancy and that refusal to vacate will lead to eviction proceedings. Such notice does not automatically allow the landlord to evict the tenant. A landlord may raise the rent of a month-to-month tenant with the consent of the tenant. If the tenant does not consent, however, the landlord can terminate the tenancy by giving appropriate notice. Real Property Law § 232-a and § 232-b.

via here.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:45 AM on February 14, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, melissasaurus. I should have mentioned that I'd seen that. But while it uses the 30th and the 1st in the example, it doesn't say what is supposed to happen when you want to move out by the middle of the month. It does say "30 days' notice is required," but I want to make sure that means "30 days exactly" and not "at least 30 days before your next rent is due."
posted by zerbinetta at 7:57 AM on February 14, 2012

This area is very old world, where deals are made with a handshake.

So, what deal did you make with the land lord? If it wasn't specific, then why don't you talk to him about what would be agreeable?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:59 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

It usually means you give notice thirty days before the next rent would be due and I would be very surprised if this was not true in your jurisdiction (though to be honest I can't tell from the linked document). You can't give a 30-day notice in mid-Fed to move out mid-March, only a 45-day notice to move out at the end of March. With that said your landlord may be willing to accept what you propose.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:00 AM on February 14, 2012

Best answer: In a month-to-month tenancy (and most leases), if you are present for one day of the month, you must pay for the entire month. Your landlord may agree to take less, but if you're there on the 1st, you must pay for the whole month. Give your notice as soon as possible, in writing, and ask if they'd take half a month's rent if you vacate by the 15th, but know that they are under no obligation to do so. (they also would have to sue you for nonpayment in NYC landlord-tenant court, which is notoriously pro-tenant, can always take your chances).
posted by melissasaurus at 8:56 AM on February 14, 2012

Response by poster: Brandon Blatcher, if I recall correctly, they just said "Give us 30 days' notice before you move."

They are not agreeable people, by the way. They yelled at our out-of-town guest and made us kick her out after a couple of days, even after they told me it was OK for her to be there for a week. They're also stingy with the heat, keeping it just one or two degrees below the legal limit. We've complained, but they say it's hot in their part of the building, so that should be good enough for us. They also don't want us to give out their number as a reference for our apartment search because they think it means crazy people will be calling them all the time. (Thankfully, the broker helped us out.)

So I'm having a hard time believing they'll try to work with us on this.

melissasaurus, thanks again. We don't plan to be here past February 28th. The offer to pay through the middle of March was just because of the 30-days thing.
posted by zerbinetta at 9:41 AM on February 14, 2012

If they're mean/unreliable, fuck 'em. Give 'em thirty days and tell them to put the deposit toward the last month's rent before refunding you the rest of it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:14 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

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