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Breaking a Lease: What are your rights?

It is often the case that renters and tenants need to move out before their lease is up. This breaks or violates the terms of the lease which also stipulates that the landlord cannot raise the monthly rent during the term of the lease. There are several justifiable reasons for breaking a lease in New York, however.

One is if you or your child have been a victim of domestic violence. State law allows for an early termination for tenants who are victims of domestic violence so long as specified conditions to legally move out are met. Tenants who are 62 or older, or whose spouse is 62 or older and are moving to a senior retirement home can also have access to early termination in New York.

Those entering active military service can break their lease early after giving their landlord written notice of their intent to terminate tenancy for military reasons.

Landlords are required to provide habitable housing according to state and local housing codes, and you have no obligation to pay further rent if your landlord fails in this regard. Further, landlords who consistently violate your right to privacy or do things such as removing doors or windows, turning off your utilities, or changing your locks, you would be justified in breaking your lease.

New York has no clear stipulation regarding whether landlords are obligated to re-rent their units if tenants break their lease. This means, if you need to break your lease but none of the above qualifications apply to you, you should do your best to work out a different arrangement with your landlord since they may try to charge you for the time left on your lease. Give as much notice as possible to your landlord by providing them with a letter explaining your need to leave early. Your best move would be to offer your landlord a replacement tenant with good credit and references.

If your landlord has treated you unfairly by not allowing you to break your lease early for a valid reason, speak with our New York City landlord tenant litigation lawyer to argue on your behalf.