After my lease ended, I paid for an extra month. I just found a new apartment and told my landlord that I’m moving at the end of the month. He says that I need to pay next month’s rent because I didn't give him enough time to find a new tenant. Do I have to pay?
In New York City, if your lease ends and you remain in place and continue paying rent, you’re considered a month-to-month tenant. This gives you the advantage of being able to move out when you want, but there are a couple of things you need to know.
As a month-to-month tenant, the terms of your original lease still apply (like if your landlord doesn't allow pets), but you’re not legally required to give a certain notice that you are moving out, says Steven Kirkpatrick, a partner at the law firm Romer Debbas. (However, the decent thing to do is to give your landlord a head's up.)
You don’t have to pay rent for the month after you leave, even if you didn’t tell your landlord in advance that you were moving out. Kirkpatrick says he’s never seen a court rule that a tenant must pay their landlord for not giving enough notice. “It’s a practical manner and most landlords are proactive about renewing leases before it would get to this point,” he says.
Most leases include a provision about how much notice you have to give your landlord if you aren’t going to renew your lease, which is usually 30 to 60 days, says Scott Harris, a broker at Brown Harris Stevens. And if your lease doesn’t include this provision, it’s standard to give 30-days notice.
To avoid this issue, be sure to check out your lease for how much notice you’re required to give regarding renewal. If you are staying beyond the term of your lease, you are considered a holdover tenant and some leases may have specific conditions about this.
Your landlord might be asking for next month's rent because they don't know the rules, Harris says, not out of malice, so you can explain what your rights are.
You should also know that this is not grounds for a landlord to keep your security deposit. The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, passed in 2019, requires your landlord to reimburse your security deposit within two weeks, and give an itemized list of any deductions, which are only supposed to be for repairs to the apartment.
There is one situation where you might be on the hook: If you don’t give your landlord access to your apartment so they can show it to prospective tenants. Even if you claim that you’re uncomfortable with strangers in your apartment due to Covid, it could be considered causing damage, Kirkpatrick says. In this situation, you might end up having to pay something.
So, while you shouldn’t have to pay rent for the month after you move out, you should give your landlord as much notice as possible, let them show the apartment while you’re still there, and make sure you move out on time.
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