how to approach landlord about month-to-month extension?
May 1, 2018 6:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm renting while buying, and I expect to move into the new place at least one but possibly more months after my current lease ends. What are some conventional solutions to this problem?

I'm buying into a co-op. I have the contract, and expect to be interviewed toward the end of the month. (Or not, this being a co-op board.) My current lease ends next month.

The main problem is the uncertainty. I think if I could tell my landlord that I need exactly one month, it'd be fine. At worst, she'd raise my rent a few percent, but I have no doubt she'd allow it. But I can't predict that I'll be out in a month. The board might not interview me this cycle. The board might reject me entirely. Something might come up between board approval and closing.

One alternative is to put everything into storage and move back in with my parents for a bit, but this is sub-optimal for a number of reasons: my fiancee isn't excited about living cheek-to-cheek with her in-laws whom she's barely met, the commute is significantly worse for both of us, and the moving cost will be both doubled and higher because my parents are farther away.

Another is to put most stuff into storage and find a temporary sublet, which would cost rent but doesn't have my parents.

So:

1. How does one approach a landlord about continuing month to month for a few months?

2. What would be reasonable concessions for the landlord to ask in exchange for the flexibility?

3. If I were to renew for the entire year, my lease would have some language about how if I move out, the landlord has to make some good-faith effort to find a replacement. Do landlords actually? It seems like they don't have much incentive, as long as I'm on the hook for the rest of the year.

This is all in NYC, if that helps.
posted by meaty shoe puppet to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Check your lease, it may already have a clause about what happens if a tenant stays past the end of their lease. Mine does. Also, this happens all the time in NYC. I think if you are willing to give your landlord 60 days notice (maybe even 30) they will agree to either a month to month or a 60 out clause.

I think your best bet, one in which you have nothing to lose if you are contemplating alternatives, is to just meet with your landlord, explain the situation and ask for what you want and negotiate from there. How long have you been in the apartment? Have you been a good tenant from the landlord's perspective? Is the apartment in a desirable area? If it needs work, has the building been rehabbing apartments between tenants? Can the apartment be rented for the same amount? What you are really talking about is who has the risk of finding the next renter. You could sublet for the remainder of your term or turn it back to the landlord with notice and they can take the risk of finding a renter.
posted by AugustWest at 6:38 AM on May 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


1. Just, you know, ask. "Could we set up a month-to-month lease when our current lease is up?"

2. When we've rented, we've usually received a lease renewal notice with different options (standard one year - usually a $100-200/mo hike; some odd variation of months that makes the lease end at a time convenient for the management - maybe a $100-200/mo discount; month-to-month - usually a $500/mo hike, plus they still require 60 days notice).

If I were introducing the idea, I'd probably offer $200/mo above current rent with 30 days notice and see what the landlord says.

3. Doesn't your current lease already have a clause that covers early termination? I don't think there's any legal requirement in NY for the landlord to make a good faith effort, so I'd be surprised if they're willing to add that, but I guess it can't hurt to ask. While you're at it, you may want to ask if you could limit your obligation to x months rent beyond termination rather than the whole year. You may want to look into their policies on sub-leasing if *you* can find a new tenant.
posted by Kriesa at 6:42 AM on May 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yes, just ask. When I needed to do this (also in NYC, also buying and renovating a coop), my landlord was a jerk about it until she realized that I had lived in her unit for 7 years and had been a good tenant. At that point, she let me go month-to-month for the same rent that she proposed for my full lease renewal (which was a $250/month hike over my previous rent). I stayed for 6 months (it took 11 months from offer to move-in with the renovation, and was 6 months from offer to closing).
posted by snaw at 7:22 AM on May 1, 2018


If they don't go for a simple reasonable request, just sign a year lease and break it whenever you want. Give as much notice as you can when you do need to move out, allow reasonable access to showing for next renters, and pretty much no landlord will care that you "broke the lease". That's there to protect you and them, but it's a pain to hire lawyers, and why bother if there's no real problem?
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:33 AM on May 1, 2018


A lot of leases default to month-to-month when they end. This might not even be an issue. But NYC is its own place where rentals are concerned.
posted by salvia at 8:02 AM on May 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Give as much notice as you can when you do need to move out, allow reasonable access to showing for next renters, and pretty much no landlord will care that you "broke the lease".

You can do that, but if they don't immediately find someone to replace you, they can probably sue you in small claims court for some proportion of the rest of the rent, and quite plausibly you will end up owing some of it. If you're in a seller's market and are confident that someone will take over the lease in short order, then it might go okay, but if nobody bites, you may be on the hook for the rest of the lease.

This is not legal advice, this is just based on a personal experience of trying to fight a small-claims suit on exactly this, but in a very different jurisdiction from NYC. Please please get NYC-specific advice if you go this route.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:06 AM on May 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


pretty much no landlord will care that you "broke the lease"

Pretty much every landlord will care enough to hold onto the security deposit under these circumstances.

Those clauses about remaining after the expiration of the lease are not a gracious offering of an option, they are warning you about what the landlord will hold you to. Don't be a holdover tenant. The eviction process does take a while. But if your landlord decides to sue you in housing court, you will have great difficulty ever renting in NYC again, and it might even cause problems with the co-op purchase.

Your landlord is fairly unlikely to trade "might recover the entire lease value if I bring suit" for "have a tenant actually paying the rent monthly" by refusing to attempt to re-rent the apartment altogether if you break the lease, but that doesn't mean they won't go after you for the rent if it does take significant time to rent the place. If the landlord refuses to negotiate a month-to-month arrangement and you sign for a year, as long as your apartment is market-rate, the landlord can't unreasonably withhold consent to a sublet (rules for rent-regulated apartments are a little different). That may be your best option if you don't want to put everything into storage.
posted by praemunire at 8:30 AM on May 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


NYC specific: May/June makes this hard- it's easiest to rent to new grads in the summer, so landlords want you out.

HOWEVER, I'm literally doing this right now; I'm staying about 2 months past my lease end date; I told my landlord that I'm a exploring real estate opportunity in a coop that needed a renovation and wanted to keep my current apt month-to-month just in case everything falls through. As a landlord; he appreciated the advance notice, as a NYer he was full of sympathy about the coop/renovations and actually recommended a contractor he uses, and also told me that I probably wouldn't be moving out for at least 2-3 more months given permitting etc. (He was right). He did ask that I update him at each stage of the process which seemed fair; so at the closing, and then once I got a timetable for the renovation. I've talked more to him in the last month than I have in the last few years tbh.

If this is a big corporate landlord/leasing company, your options may be more limited, but in my case (small time landlord that owns one building) it worked out great to be honest and upfront.

Irrespective, I would explore starting to move things into storage/purging as soon as you have a coop interview scheduled- rather than once you have a closing date- if you can store say your winter stuff and books near the new apt, then that's sort of a mini move, and it gives you some breathing space. I would not move in with your parents.
posted by larthegreat at 8:34 AM on May 1, 2018


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