Real Estate

I Broke My Lease. Do I Still Have to Pay the Rent?

Q: Over the summer season, my husband and I broke the lease on our Chelsea condominium and moved to the suburbs. Our landlord advised us that we might solely get out of the lease if a substitute tenant had been discovered. We accomplished the walk-through, handed in the keys and have continued to pay hire each month whereas the landlord appears for the substitute. But how do we all know if he discovered somebody? Is it attainable that the condominium has been rented and we’re nonetheless paying hire?

A: If you resolve to break a lease in New York, your landlord should make an affordable effort to re-rent the condominium at the identical hire or the present market hire, whichever is decrease. If he takes these steps, you’d be on the hook for the hire till he finds a brand new tenant. So how are you aware if the landlord is even making an attempt to hire it? Look on websites like StreetEasy to see if it’s been listed.

If you possibly can’t discover the itemizing, do some sleuthing and name the leasing workplace. Ask if the condominium has been rented, and if it hasn’t, ask whether it is even listed for hire. If it’s not rented or on the market — which is actually attainable, given how gradual leases are shifting — you’d be free out of your duty.

If the condominium has been rented at a decrease hire, you’d be liable for the distinction. But if the landlord hasn’t tried to discover a new tenant, then you aren’t obligated to pay the hire anymore. You might even sue the landlord for the months that you just paid when the condominium was sitting idle.

Regardless of what you discover out, you might have considered trying to cease paying hire now. “That will put more pressure on your landlord to re-rent the apartment,” stated Samuel J. Himmelstein, a Manhattan lawyer who represents tenants. “What pressure is this landlord under to re-rent if he’s getting rent from the old tenant?”

The landlord might sue you for the steadiness of the lease. But he would have to present that he made a good-faith effort to discover a new tenant. If he didn’t, you’d be launched out of your obligation and the case could be dismissed. If he did, you’d negotiate a settlement in court docket, which may be lower than what you owe now. So, you don’t have a lot to lose at this level by holding onto your money.

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