Rent Coach

Rent Coach: How much notice of a rent increase is our landlord required to give us?

By Mike Akerly  | July 25, 2013 - 3:22PM
Q. I'm renting a market-rate apartment in New York City and my lease is set to expire July 29th. My landlord emailed me on July 10th stating that he wants to raise the rent over 10% (from $2,400 to $2,650).
The only information in my lease about renewal is in the "Rider to the Lease," which states:
"Tenant acknowledges that he has rented the Apartment referenced above which Apartment is not subject to Rent Stabilization Law or any governmental controls regulating rent or Tenant's rights to occupy the Apartment.  It is understood and agreed that the Landlord may not renew your Lease for any reason whatsoever, nor is tenant entitled to a renewal lease by law.  Tenant shall be required to vacate the Apartment at the expiration of the Term of the Lease, unless the Landlord executes a renewal lease for the extension of the Term. The rental and term of a renewal lease, if any, is solely within the discretion of the Landlord." 
There is no language that refers to an amount of notice for the renewal.  So my question is, how much notice of a rent increase, upon lease renewal, is a landlord required to give a tenant of a non-rent-stabilized apartment? Please help!
A. The short answer is “none.”  
The landlord is not obligated to renew the lease at all (nor is the tenant), thus if neither party were to speak with each before the termination date, you would simply be required to move out.  
If the landlord wishes to offer a lease renewal, they may do so at any time and on any terms. Most leases would not place any onus on a landlord to offer a lease renewal within a certain period of time.  If anything, it would typically state that the tenant must seek a lease renewal within a certain time frame (e.g. 30 or 60 days before the end of the lease) lest the landlord begin marketing the apartment to find a new tenant.
Whether the lease explicitly discusses renewal terms or not, it is always prudent for tenants who wish to renew to begin the dialogue with their landlord 60 to 90 before the lease is set to end.  This way, if you aren’t able to come to an agreement on the terms (e.g. the price or the duration of the new lease), or if the landlord simply says that they don’t wish to offer a renewal, you have plenty of time to secure a new place.
With your lease termination fast approaching, you really only have two good choices.  
The first is to plan on vacating the apartment on July 29th and moving somewhere else.  You can always find short-term rentals somewhere in the city if you need a temporary location before finding a long-term lease.  
Your second option is to contact the landlord and negotiate with them.  Let them know that you really wish to stay for another year (or more), but that the increase is too high.  If they are interested in keeping you as a tenant, they may agree to come down off of their requested number.  
Keep in mind that at this point, just a week from your lease termination, your landlord may have already begun the process of seeking a new tenant.  If not, you can use the situation as leverage by suggesting that if you were to leave at the end of the month and the landlord doesn’t already have a new tenant, they will be losing rent.  If the apartment sits vacant for one month, your landlord would actually lose much of the $3,000 annual increase they requested.   

Mike Akerly is a New York City real estate attorney, landlord, and real estate broker. He is also the publisher of the Greenwich Village blog VillageConfidential.     

Note: The information provided here is for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice and cannot substitute for the advice of a licensed professional applying their specialized knowledge to the particular circumstances of your case.

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