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Ask an Expert: Do I really have to renew my lease 4 months early?

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Q.  I recently received my lease renewal offer on a rent regulated apartment, with a letter that says I have to respond within 60 days or my landlord will assume I will be vacating at the end of my lease.  

I still have four and a half months until my current lease ends. I find it difficult to make such a decision when I cannot see what is on the market and available for lease in 4 months.    Is this legal/enforceable?  

A. In a nutshell, yes, say our experts.

"Not only is the requirement that a rent stabilized tenant answer the landlord’s offer to renew within 60 days legal and enforceable, it is mandated by the rent stabilization laws," says real estate attorney Steven Wagner of Wagner Berkow.

The New York Rent Stabilization Code  provides a window period of not less than 90 days and not more than 150 days for a landlord to offer a lease renewal (or, alternatively, refuse to renew the lease because you are not using the premises as your primary residence, the landlord wants to use the apartment him or herself, or the apartment is subject to luxury rent decontrol, notes Wagner).

Under the code, explains real estate lawyer Eric Goidel, you then have 60 days to accept the offer. 

"The whole point of the time frame is to give tenants a reasonable period time to make a decision, as well as afford landlords an opportunity to look for a new tenant should the existing tenant decide to move out," says Goidel


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