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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    Angry Breaking of a lease in New York State


    My fiance and I are moving out of our apt in upstate NY. We have only lived in our apt since April 10th, 2006. We put in our 30 days written notice on May 31st to break our 1 year lease due to several problems. Now our landlord is threatening to use his attorney to collect the remainder of the rent for the year. According to his lease, he has to do a walk-through of the apt on the day we move out, and sign a written release form. Without this, we are liable to pay the remainder of the year's rent. We do not want anymore contact with our landlord. We are afraid that he will find "damages" and blame them on our living there. We would like to videotape the condition of the empty apt, with a third-party present, on the day we move out and send the keys back to the landlord's office via registered mail. Can you advise whether this is a viable way to get around the release form? Also, is the lease even valid, if:
    our landlord did not personally sign the lease (his secretary signed for him, even though he was present at the time of the signing)
    we were unable to reside in the apt on the agreed move-in date of April 8th b/c the toilet was not installed
    we did not have a working full-sized refrigerator for approximately a week and a half, which was only replaced by a dorm fridge up until last week
    we had put in a maintenance order for a leaking ceiling which was never followed up on
    there are missing window screens (we live on the third floor)

    Any pertinent information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time and input!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Angry Re: Breaking of a lease in New York State

    You will most likely be liable for the rest of the rent or some kind of penalty written on the contract you signed. Since you did not document anything or sent him a certified mail to fix the problems.

    Even if the landlord did not sign the contract it is enforcable since the working employee there signed it.

    Also before you are entitled to move out with any penalties you must send a written letter requesting to have the leaky ceiling, damaged windows, and etc. to be fixed. This mail needs to be certified and you must carry a copy of the letter you sent. This is for your own good to have PROOF that you requested many times for the problems to be fixed! You need proof! Just incase you goto court or you get sued which is most likely.

    As hard as it is for the landlord to evict you, it is hard to break a lease once you sign it.

    If I were you I would take pictures of the leaking ceiling and have the new york license and inspection officer to document the problem immediately Having a witness helps too, but all maintainence requests can only be proven with written certified mail.

    I say this again you Must ASAP send a certified mail to the landlord that you are having such maintainence problems. And if he does not fix the problem in a timely manner you can end the lease without any financial harms.

    However once the landlord knows you sent the certified mail it is most likely that he will fix the problem immediately therefore you are most likely to be stuck with the lease. Most landlords are cheapskates and they like to abuse their power and too many of them get away from it. Most landlords, especially the crooked ones know their rights.

    Consult with a local lawyer before you move out! Or atleast have proof that you notified the landlord to fix it. Maintainence requests must be in writing and needs to be sent via certified mail, this is a must. Any verbal agreement with the landlord will not work, since he is a liar and thats the law.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Breaking of a lease in New York State

    By the way, if you can prove that you were living in a badly conditioned apartment for such period, you can possibly be entitled for the % of the rent you paid so far, depending on the condition of the aprtment you can prove.

    My advice is get a lawyer to move out unless you have the time and the resource to stress over this. Lawyer may cost you some money, but better then staying there for almost a year.

    I have a similar case, but my lease ends this end of July, but your lease will end next year of April. I would get a lawyer and get the hell out of there and be cautious which lease I sign next time and inspect the building carefully.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Default Re: Breaking of a lease in New York State

    Disregard everything mondaypride said.

    Starting out, civil law, which encompasses L-T law, generally does allow any fines or penalties, though you may have some liability for the remainder of the lease.

    Quote Quoting mondaypride
    Also before you are entitled to move out with any penalties
    Normally landlords are requires to miitigate any damages. That means the landlord must make a good faith effort to re-rent the apartment. That also means you are liable for any damages (i.e.: lost rent when it is due, costs to re-rent such as advertising, etc.) If your lease has a provision accellerating the rent payments upon breach, it may not be enforceable.

    As for the repairs, the landlord intially breached the lease by not giving you possession, or at least not making it possible for you to take possession of a habitable apartment, on the first day of the lease. Unless there is a lease provision otherwise, the landlord may owe you some $ for damages. But once you moved in, you agreed to honor the balance of the lease. The same applies to the fridge. The ceiling and screens are not serious enough to cause a breach of the lease and probably wouldn't get you a rent abatement (temporary reduction).

    As for the secretary signing the lease, that is questionable and may go either way. If the secretary was not known or represented to you to be an agent for the landlord, even aparrent authority, when the agent acts as if he/she has the authority to act on behalf of the principle, the landlord in this case, in this matter, and the belief that this agent has the actual authority is reasonable, then the lease is voidable. But if the secretary has some authority to act as agent for the landlord in some capacity, the fact that the secretary signed the lease with the explicit approval of the landlord would make it enforceable, if for no other reason than that the landlord has ratified or accepted the obligation by his/her actions. If the secretary is just a secretary, I doubt that a court would find her to be an agent of the landlord for purposes of binding the landlord to a lease. If this person has a title that it makes it reasonable to believe that the person has the authority to bind the landlord to a lease, or otherwise acted in ways to make it reasonable to believe that the person has the authority to bind the landlord to a lease, then the lease may be enforceable.

    Taking pictures and/or video of your empty apartment is a very good idea. So is having the landlord do a walkthrough. Do you think that the landlord won't find any damages just because you weren't there when the landlord discovered it? With a walkthrough you get an idea of what the landlord is seeing and you may be able to dissuade your landlord from assessing any charges or you know in advance that it is coming and that it is reasonable, if in fact it is. Be aware that there may still be some hidden damage that the landlord won't find in an initial walkthrough. If you fear the landlord assessing you for non-existant damages, or over assessing you, you may want to develop the pictures right away and send duplicates of some or all the pictures or a copy of the video to the landlord to show that you can prove what the condition of the apatment was in upon move-out.

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