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Eco-Friendly Resident’s Guide to Breaking a NYC Apartment Lease

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Are you committed to sustainability? Eco-friendly living is a growing trend in New York City. A number of factors have contributed to the growing interest in sustainability in New York, including the fact that the sea level rose four inches in just two years.

There are a growing number of apartments in New York that are focusing on sustainability. Although there are a lot of compelling reasons to live in these apartments if you want to lower your carbon footprint, you still have to make sure that you are abiding by the right rules and policies. This includes knowing the requirements for breaking your lease, which are the same for eco-friendly residents as they are for others.

Understanding the Rules for Breaking Leases with Sustainable Apartments

If you are serious about being a sustainable consumer, then you need to do your due diligence. You have to think about things like living in eco-friendly housing.

New York has a lot of great places to live if you care about lowering your carbon footprint. You can find a list of the best eco-friendly apartments here.

Wondering how to break a lease in NYC? Some homeowners and providers of furnished apartments in New York City have simple lease-break requirements, while others make it nearly impossible. Unfortunately, eco-friendly landlords aren’t necessarily going to be more lenient about letting people break leases.

The Covid-19 pandemic left many New Yorkers reassessing their living arrangements, meaning many renters are thinking about lease-breaks. Sadly, some eco-friendly residents are even considering putting their standards of sustainability on hold to find a better place to live. While that is understandable, it doesn’t bode well for the environment over the long-term.

Still, you might have seen some landlords offering big incentives and are left wondering, “How can I break my NYC lease?” Don’t fret! 

Even if there are still a few months left on your lease agreement when living in an eco-friendly apartment, there may be a way out.

Terminating a lease agreement can be time-consuming and costly, but many landlords are lenient these days. Those that care about sustainability might be less motivated by profit, so they might be more understandable.

If you are considering doing it, here is everything you need to know before breaking your NYC apartment lease.

Landlords are supposed to make a reasonable effort to re-rent an apartment

The good news is that tenant protections have improved in this area. New rent reforms have shifted some responsibilities to landlords if a tenant wants to break the lease. The 2019 reforms have given landlords what’s called “a duty to mitigate.” This means they should make a reasonable effort to look for a new renter instead of simply charging you in court for rent arrears.

Notify the landlord in writing if you intend to break a lease voluntarily

Keeping your intentions clear with your landlord is necessary if you need to break a lease. Write a letter (via registered mail) to your landlord as soon as possible explaining your situation. Be sure to be upfront and honest to find what your options are.

Not all landlords are the same and some will be logical while others may not be as flexible. 

In some cases, they may ask you to find a qualified tenant, or provide them with regular access to the apartment for marketing and displaying it to prospective tenants. 

Others will allow it if you pay the penalty, which can sometimes be to forfeit the security deposit or pay a month’s rent.

Some leases offer a lease-break clause, so you should check to see if yours already has one. There’s a chance that there’s a clause about emergencies, deaths, sudden job loss or relocation. 

If you wish to move to a different area or a cheaper apartment, you can transfer your lease to another apartment in your landlord’s network.

Document everything if breaking a lease due to issues with the apartment

Sometimes, the apartment has so many issues that it’s no longer safe for you to stay there anymore. 

For instance, if you have issues like mold, bed bugs, excessive noise or lead paint, it’s likely you will want to break your lease in the case of constructive eviction.

Call 311 to have the Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) department review your complaints. 

However, be prepared to back your claims before asking to break your lease. Violations alone could be enough to pressure the landlord to let you out. 

For future leases, it’s always wise to document the apartment’s condition before moving in as well.

You can sublet your place in NYC

If you aim to avoid fees, consider subletting your place. 

In general, New York is among the few states that offer renters the right to sublet, regardless of what the lease says. With a sublet, it’s assumed that the leaseholder is leaving the apartment temporarily. 

As a result, you’re still responsible for the rent and other damages to the apartment.

You can find a suitable candidate to occupy the unit and pay the rent. Keep in mind that you’re technically the owner according to the lease. 

As such, come to an agreement with the landlord about who’s responsible. Subletting offers the cheapest way to get out of the lease agreement early.

Figure out if you can break your lease under the NYC law

In New York, a few scenarios may qualify renters to break their lease without an agreement with the landlord. You can automatically terminate the lease if:

  • You’re leaving for military duty
  • You’re older and intend to move to senior housing or live with a family member
  • You’re a disabled person who wants to move into a residential healthcare facility or live with a family member
  • Your landlord has harassed you or violated your privacy

Know How to Break a Lease Properly While Living in an Eco-Friendly New York Property

There are different ways to break a lease as an eco-friendly resident in New York City. Every landlord is different, depending on the situation, but knowing how to communicate openly can be a good place to begin.  You should also be optimistic if you live in a sustainable housing center, because landlords that care about sustainability tend to be more understanding about other things.

Besides, the city has implemented a number of protections and services for tenants due to the pandemic. The Landlord-Tenant Mediation Project is among the few that have helped tenants and landlords to settle things outside of housing court.

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