Many people celebrate a lease when they can sign one in NYC. However, as one of the world’s most competitive markets, it’s challenging to get into a great place that you can afford on your own.

With that commitment comes some responsibility. When you sign a lease, you’re bound to pay rent for the length of the entire term. That means you’re usually on the hook for at least a year, but it could be longer. It’s not unusual to see agreements lasting for 24 or 36 months.

What can you do if you need to leave your apartment before the end of your lease? Although you can move out before it expires, you’re still responsible for the remainder of the money owed. Although landlords must mitigate damages by re-renting, that doesn’t mean you’ll get out of any future obligation.

To be successful, you must find a reason that lets the landlord agree to break the lease or find a breach of the agreement on their end.

What Are the Best Options for Breaking a Lease in NYC?

Landlord-tenant laws work to put you and your landlord on the same page about your rental agreement. Each party receives equal incentives to find new tenants, take care of their needs, and make things right for one another.

If you need to move out before your lease expires in NYC, here are the best options to try to lessen the financial hit you might take.

1. Notify your landlord in writing.


When you have a definitive date about when you’d like to get out of your lease, notify your landlord or management company in writing. It works best to send a letter by certified or registered mail.

Use the letter to explain your situation. When you’re transparent and upfront about your circumstances, most people act reasonably to make things easier.

You might get asked to find a replacement tenant, open your home for showing, or take other steps to lessen the risk of a financial loss. Most larger landlords have a general rule, but standardized policies aren’t always available.

2. Find another tenant for your place.


If you know someone else who wants to live at your address, you can approach your landlord about having them take over your lease or start a new one. However, it’s important to remember that just because you found someone doesn’t mean you’re automatically off the hook.

Landlords have the right to approve each tenant that moves into their building. That means the prospective tenant must meet the financial criteria and pass the screening process.

If you find someone who wants to take your place, they’ll need to have a guarantor or enough income, a clean credit history, and current employment.

Without those items, landlords can withhold consent and have it considered reasonable.

3. Don’t break your lease in the winter.

winter holidays

The slowest time for rentals in NYC is between November and February most years. So it could be challenging to find a replacement tenant when you’re ready to move out.

The rental costs can be up to 30% lower during the winter months. However, landlords often need to make more concessions to fill open spaces, which means your financial risks rise if you break a lease.

You can experience similar problems in the summer if a building has several vacant apartments. If your landlord already needs to fill seven one-bedroom units, adding an eighth one into the mix doesn’t help much.

If your lease ends in the winter and you need to break it in the summer, landlords might appreciate it if you find someone who can start a new 12-month term at that time. But, again, prices will be higher, making it easier to get people to work with you.

You’ll want to give this process 60 or 90 days to get moving, especially if you are in a full-service luxury apartment.

Don’t Forget About Your Security Deposit Rights.

money deposit

You don’t forfeit your security deposit when breaking a lease in NYC. However, that doesn’t mean the money is safe.

Any damages to the apartment will still get taken out of it. They could include lost rent, paying a brokerage to find a tenant or managing unpaid utility bills.

Landlords must give you a walk-through at the end of the tenancy, itemize damages, and provide opportunities to make repairs within 14 days of breaking the lease. If that isn’t done, you get the entire security deposit back.

Breaking a lease in NYC isn’t ideal, but it doesn’t need to be a massive financial setback. If you need help taking your belongings to storage or moving into a new place, reach out today. We’ll provide you with the professional moving services needed to start the next chapter of your life.

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By Published On: December 20, 2023Categories: Moving Tips, Real Estate