Can a NYC landlord demand 30 days notice before I decide to leave my lease?
August 10, 2006 7:02 AM   Subscribe

Can a NYC landlord demand thirty days notice before one leaves the lease?

On 6/30 I called my landlord and spoke to his son (an employee of the real estate company) and told him we would like to extend our lease one month (from 7/15 to 8/15), that he we were 99% sure we would leave at that point and that I would call him if our plans changed.

On 8/2 I called and left a message stating that since we were leaving on 8/15 we would need to drop of the keys and give him our new addresses. I received no response.

This morning I called and left another message. He called back and left a message stating that he didn't have any record of my previous call, that I needed to give him 30 days notice so he could rent the apartment or we would be responsible for the rent.

There is no clause stating this in the lease, I can't find anything on the housing department's website. It seems unfair to the tenant, so I really can't imagine this is the law.

Before I call him back, can anyone give me information regarding this 'rule?' Or any tips on dealing with this.
posted by miniape to Law & Government (16 answers total)
If it's not in the lease, you don't have to follow it, period. Unless you're concerned with not burning bridges, tell him it's not in the lease and you won't follow it.
posted by cellphone at 7:04 AM on August 10, 2006

I'm not in NYC but here in Toronto, you have to give 60 days whether it's in the lease or not--you have to do it even if you don't have a lease and rent month to month. In addition, you have to do it in writing--a phone call doesn't cut it. I'd be surprised if NYC didn't at lease insist upon a written notice of lease termination, otherwise it's just your word against his.
posted by dobbs at 7:10 AM on August 10, 2006

Yep, important lease stuff should always be done in writing, preferably by certified mail return receipt. But fortunately by this not being in the lease (and really you don't need to look beyond it), it appears you're ok.
posted by zek at 7:10 AM on August 10, 2006

I will defer to dobbs point... there may be a state/city law, but in my experience the 30-day clauses are in the lease -- I can't imagine why a landlord wouldn't put it in there so everyone knows their obligations.
posted by zek at 7:12 AM on August 10, 2006

You should carefully recheck your lease to be absolutely certain. Then, contact any one of the myriad of tenants rights organizations in the city to ask for some backup - they can tell you if it's a law that doesn't have to be in the lease. Finally, in the future, ALWAYS make sure that 100% of your contact with your landlord is in writing.
posted by robhuddles at 7:17 AM on August 10, 2006

I'd be amazed if there wasn't something in the lease about this. Here is some of the relevant law. You mention that you asked about extending the lease by a month, which either tells me that you're on a month-to-month lease or you're holding over a month beyond the end of a lease:

Real Property Law ยง 232

Renting Without a Written Lease
When two parties enter into a landlord-tenant relationship without a written lease, this arrangement is known as a "month-to-month tenancy." In this type of tenancy, the tenant continues to maintain possession of the property for successive monthly periods, beginning on a specific calendar day. If either the landlord or the tenant gives one calendar months notice of termination of the arrangement on the day beginning the arrangement, the arrangement will terminate at the beginning of the next monthly period. If, however, notice of termination is given to the tenant less than one calendar month before the beginning of the next "month to month" period, the tenant may remain in the apartment for an additional month. For example, if a landlord terminates a month to month tenancy on May 15, the tenant may remain on the premises until July 1.

Renting With a Written Lease
When two parties enter into a landlord-tenant relationship with a written lease, the tenancy is governed by the terms of the lease. This lease must be written in clear, plain language and divided into captioned sections. Upon termination of the lease period, the landlord has the option of increasing the rental price to correlate with the market value of the property (unless the property is subject to rent stabilization or rent control). Furthermore, if the tenant remains on the property upon the termination of the lease (known as a "holdover tenant"), the landlord can either (a) evict the tenant or (b) maintain the relationship as a "month-to-month" tenancy.

posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:25 AM on August 10, 2006

and told him we would like to extend our lease one month

Hang on, if your lease is expiring anyway, you'd have to give notice that you were staying, not that you're leaving. Check your contract.
posted by cillit bang at 7:29 AM on August 10, 2006

Response by poster: TThanks for the responses so far. I will re-check the lease, but I did read it with this exact concern in mind a while ago. I had a one year lease and asked to extend it by one month. Aug 15 marks the end of that month.
posted by miniape at 7:33 AM on August 10, 2006

It might help if you post the relevant clauses from your lease. If you have a written lease that expired on July 15, check that it doesn't become a month-to-month lease automatically after that. I've had leases like that. But really, you made a big mistake by not sending your "99% sure" plans to them in writing.
posted by mediareport at 7:51 AM on August 10, 2006

From NotMyselfRightNow's link, it seems as though you've switched from month-to-month starting from the end of your lease, and one month's notice is required.

Frankly, it sounds like you were in the wrong ANY way here: you called up at the end of June, and said "Yeah, I'm probably leaving August 15". You never confirmed that you were, in fact, leaving, so the landlord had no incentive to start looking for new tenants.

The reason it's required to give one month's notice is so that the landlord doesn't get screwed by you saying, less than 2 weeks before you're leaving "Oh yeah, by the way, I'm leaving" and then having to scramble to find a tenant. Likewise, they can't screw YOU by saying "You have 12 days to find a new place to live". You *think* you gave them enough notice, but you didn't, really. It's up to you, not them, to confirm precisely when you want your month-to-month tenancy to actually end, unfortunately.
posted by antifuse at 7:52 AM on August 10, 2006

It sounds to me like you have approached this backwards.

Your assumption seems to have been that by asking for an extension of one month, that meant you were obligated for one month and one month only.

Lease law seems to work differently than that (from experience and what was written above). The assumption is that your lease continues indefinitely unless either party advises otherwise in writing, i.e., unless they terminate the lease. This requires thirty days notice, minimum.

In fact, your written lease automatically converted to a month-to-month lease when you stayed at the end of the lease period (the initial 12 months covered by a written lease) and asking for an additional month was not necessary. Now the issue is how to terminate that lease, and that will happen at the end of the calendar month following your written notice to the landlord.
posted by mikel at 7:52 AM on August 10, 2006

miniape, I'm going to try and apply the above law to your specific situation. I'm not a legal expert, but I do have a small background in real estate law in MA. I have no background in NYC real estate law, and you should speak to a lawyer if you feel you need one...

Your fixed-term written lease ended on 15 July 2006. By agreement between you and the landlord, you extended that to a month-to-month lease. According to the law above, a tenant must declare on Day 1 of that month-long period if they intend to no longer be an occupant on Day 1 of the next month-long period. If they declare between Day 2 and the last day of that month-long period that they wish to leave the property, they must pay for the current month-long period, as well as the next month-long period.

In your situation, you had to declare on 15 July 2006 if you intended to leave the property on 15 August 2006.

By not declaring until 02 August 2006, you became obligated to pay the rent for the periods of 15 July 2006 to 15 August 2006, as well as 15 August 2006 to 15 September 2006.

Call your landlord and talk it through. You're on the hook, but you might be able to get yourself off. Know anyone who would be interested in renting the place? Would you be willing to do some legwork, perhaps posting on Craigslist or something and trying to find a new tenant? Think about how to make your landlords life easier--in turn, he'll probably be willing to help you out, too. But, as it stands now, he's not being unreasonable to ask you to pay through 15 September 2006.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:53 AM on August 10, 2006

When the lease period expires, you go into that month-to-month situation NotMyselfRightNow listed above. You have to provide written notice when you intend to leave that situation. You are not under the conditions of the old lease anymore, unless that lease has explicit terms for going month-to-month. You are now probably under the conditions of a month-to-month lease, which requires 30 days notice for either party to terminate.
If you are still unsure you should ask the folks on the NYC craigslist housing forum. They are quite knowledgeable on these subjects.
posted by ch1x0r at 8:01 AM on August 10, 2006

I had to go through a whole ordeal with my landlord and I looked into the laws, and even went to small claims (and won!) But yeah, the turning into month to month lease is true and since you only were 99% sure, it doesn't count.

Even if there was nothing about the notice in the orginal lease, once you stay beyond the year term it turns into month to month and 30 days notice is required.

I think they need to know either your staying or your leaving. If the 1% possibility of you staying happened, and they had rented out the apartment date starting 8/15 and you had no place to go...
posted by unsigned at 8:02 AM on August 10, 2006

In most jurisdictions he can demand 30 days notice. In most locations, once a lease expires, the arrangment shifts to a periodic tenancy (unless otherwise indicated in the lease). The default period of time for this type of lease is a month unless otherwise agreed upon. To terminate a periodic tenancy one period's notice (with a minumum of 30 days if shorter) must be given before ending this type of tenancy.

To know for sure you'll need to find a tenant rights organization which has the specific details of your jurisdiction.

The info I gave is from my 1L Property class which I just completed (got an A) so IANAL... yet.
posted by JakeLL at 10:20 AM on August 10, 2006

Response by poster: Just as a follow up: I spoke to the landlord. They had it rented within three hours. Such is the rental market in Brooklyn. Everything seems to have worked out. Thanks.
posted by miniape at 1:26 PM on August 15, 2006

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