30 days notice to NYC landlord - how does it work?
July 31, 2020 2:18 AM   Subscribe

Moving soon from month-to-month sublet, within NYC. How exactly do I provide notice?

I am currently residing in a sublet apartment in NYC and plan to move out by August 31. I do have a written agreement and have signed an agreement for the year but am considered a month-to-month tenant. This is the first time I am officially providing notice to a landlord. I have read through my original lease and yearly renewal agreements multiple times but am still confused on exactly how to give notice, so I emailed the rental company office and they said that I must send a 30 day written notice with the date I intend to vacate. How do I actually execute this?

1. Rent is due on the 1st of each month, so if I plan to leave on or by August 31 and state that as such in my letter, do I date my letter as August 1 or 2? If I send the letter via certified mail today with August 1 or 2 as the date with August 31 move-out date, the dates that I state in the letter are effective, not the date that I mailed or that is received, correct? What do I actually do with the keys when I move out? The rental company listed as overtenant in my sublease agreement is not local. The actual building landlord has an office across the street from me but the employees are WFH due to COVID.
2. What exactly should I write in the letter? Do I need to provide an address for my security deposit to be returned? Are there any NYC-law specific sample letters for my situation that you can direct me to?
a. To whom do I address the letter? Since I mail my checks to a rental company (not an individual). Do I just write “Dear Company Name”?

The only text in sublease rider that seems relevant to giving notice is as follows, though it seems like it would be the notice that the company provides to me, not that I provide to them:
This sublease may be re-renewed on not less than 30 days written notice to Undertenant. The granting of such re-renewal shall be at the sole option of the Overtenant. Overtenant reserved the right not to renew the Undertenant based on the above requirement.

Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would send and date the letter as of today, July 31 2020, stating an intent to vacate [property address] on August 31 2020. Tell them you will leave the keys on (obvious place, like the kitchen counter). Tell them they can mail your security deposit to [new address].

I'd also give the office a call, maybe don't ID yourself if they haven't received the letter yet, or wait several days, and ask about their final day walkthrough procedure during covid times. You don't want to get stiffed on the security deposit.

If you google city+lease termination letter you'll probably find a ton of examples. But the basics will always be the same. Intent to vacate as of date, address for security deposit.
posted by phunniemee at 6:43 AM on July 31

I don’t quite understand this. Who is Overtenant (the person who is the actual tenant?} and who is Undertenant (you?)?

Generally speaking, as I understand it, a sublease is when the tenant who has the lease contract with the owner transfers part of the duration of their tenancy to a third party for an amount equal or less than the rent rate in the lease (sometimes the tenant will try to charge more in order to make a profit from the subtenant, but I believe this is usually prohibited by the law and the lease). This is meant to be done with the owners permission and terms, which are usually set forth in the lease. An important thing to understand is that the tenant still has ultimate responsibility to the owner under the lease with respect to paying the rent, paying for damages, etc. The subtenant’s responsibility under a sublease is to the tenant, not to the owner. This is true regardless of whether the subtenant pays the rent to the tenant or directly to the owner, or whether the sublease has to be approved by the owner. Otherwise it isn’t really a sublease, it’s a lease.

Who did you sign the papers with? The tenant or the owner? Who did you give a security deposit to? The tenant or the owner?

In any event, I would address your letter to the tenant and simply say:
Dear Ulysses Hepplewaighte-Browne III:

I hereby notify you that I will vacate 32 Main Street, Apartment B7, Brooklyn, NY 12346, on or before August 31, 2020, thereby ceasing my tenancy under the lease as of September 1, 2020. Lease inform me how you would like me to return the keys.

Pursuant to Article A(3)(b) of the sublease, my security deposit should be returned to me no later than October 1, 2020. Kindly send the refund check to me at: 73 Apian Way, New York, NY 45678.

Many thanks for your attention to this matter. If there are any other items to which I should attend prior to vacancy, please contact me at (917) 124-4567 or schmengie@email.org

Very truly yours,

Cedric C. Schmengelthorper

cc: Owner
Mail the letters to both addresses certified mail, return receipt requested.

FWIW, NYC landlords are notorious for stiffing departing tenants on the return of the security deposit. landlords are notorious for Stefan departing tenants on the return of the security deposit. As a result, it has become somewhat standard practice for deporting tenants to simply not pay the last month of rent and let the landlord keep the deposit in lieu of that rental payment. It is really the only way to ensure that you get your money back, and if the landlord feels that there are repairs that need to be done, you can indicate your willingness to pay for them up to the amount of the security deposit. But you are in a much better negotiating position if the landlord isn’t holding your money.
posted by slkinsey at 6:51 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]

Well, it looks like Siri screwed me a little on the above. :-)

Also, the first paragraph should say "under the sublease" not "under the lease."

One other note: Due to the pandemic there is a lot of stuff going on in the NYC rental market right now and it is becoming very much a buyer's market rather than the seller's market it has been for so many years. The owners of my Columbia-adjacent building has been putting up signs offering rewards for tenant referrals. I've never seen anything like that in the 30 years I've lived in this building. Back in January we rented a small second apartment for Mrs. slkinsey in Washington Heights to make some extra space while we were working out some marital difficulties. When the pandemic hit in March we just gave 30 days written notice that we were moving out, formally acknowledged that we would be sacrificing the security deposit and straight up broke the lease. Nothing bad happened. In fact something good happened... we may be the only people who can say the pandemic saved our marriage. :-) Anyway, my impression is that any number of people around the metro-NYC area have bailed out on their leases and the owners are not in a position to do much more than shrug it off. You appear to be trying to do this as by-the-book as possible, and whatever you do I don't see it being a problem. The best way to CYA is with notifications to the tenant and the owner by certified mail with return receipt requested. If you have email addresses, sending the letter via email in addition to certified mail is a fairly standard practice in the legal world for the belt + suspenders approach.
posted by slkinsey at 7:18 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]

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