Everything you need to know about breaking a rental lease in Manhattan

Everyone dreams of owning their house. And when they move, they want to sell their house, preferably for a profit. But that’s not how it works every time in the real world. In fact, if you live in New York, you’re more likely to be renting the place where you live. And occasionally, you’ll need to hire New York movers before your lease is over. If that is the case, you should know everything you possibly can about breaking a rental lease in Manhattan. Like all contracts, leases are legally binding documents. This means you can’t just ignore them when you feel like it. So learn more about how to get out of them legally and with minimal consequences.

When might you consider breaking a rental lease in Manhattan?

Life is full of unexpected changes. This is never more true than when you live in New York where life is constantly fast-paced. So even if you thought you’d want to be renting the same place for a year when you signed your lease, you might find yourself changing your mind. Perhaps you’ve been offered a job on the other side of the country and are planning on hiring long distance movers Manhattan to relocate somewhere far away. Or maybe you are starting the university of your dreams this semester. There may be someone new in your life that you want to move in with. On the flip side, you could have lost your job and suddenly stopped being able to afford your current place. Or perhaps you need to move back in with your aging parents to help them out.

NYC building.
Have you found a better place to live?

These are all valid reasons to want to relocate. However, they’re not always considered valid reasons to break a binding contract like a lease.

Legal reasons for breaking a lease

Unless otherwise specified in the contract, legally acceptable reasons to break a lease are limited. You can break a lease without consequences if:

  • either you or your child are victims of domestic violence
  • either you or your spouse are at least 62 years old and moving to an assisted living facility
  • you are active-duty military and moving due to a change of station
  • the unit you’re renting is uninhabitable and your landlord refuses to fix it
  • your landlord is harassing you or otherwise violating your rights

The potential consequences of breaking a rental lease in Manhattan

If you decide to break your Manhattan rental lease, you have to accept that your decision comes with consequences. This includes:

  • getting sued for rent owed or even damages
  • paying fees to your landlord, a broker, lawyer, or other professionals involved in the process
  • hurting your credit score
  • having an eviction on your record
  • having issues renting a new place due to your record

While it is possible to come to an agreement with your landlord which allows you to avoid the worst of this, you still need to think twice about hiring Clinton movers. Are you ready to risk these consequences for your relocation?

Person reading a contract before breaking a rental lease in Manhattan.
A lease is a legally binding contract and breaking it has consequences.

A guide to breaking a rental lease in Manhattan

If you decide that breaking your lease is the best decision for you, there are definitely right and wrong ways to go about it. You want to get out of your lease with minimal consequences. In order to do that, you’ll need to put in a bit of effort.

Read your lease carefully

The first thing you’ll want to do, before you even make the final decision of whether you need residential movers or not, is to read your lease thoroughly. Everything you need to know about your current situation will be in that document. Sometimes, a lease even contains an early termination clause which will tell you exactly what to expect from breaking a lease early. But even if your lease doesn’t have this stipulation, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the conditions of the contract you’re trying to get out of.

Know your rights (and obligations)

As we’ve mentioned above, there are times when you can break a lease legally and without consequences. And even if your situation doesn’t fit the criteria for that, landlords in New York are even obligated to make a reasonable effort to re-rent the place before coming after you for rent owed. Additionally, there are ways to come to an agreement with your landlord that ends with both of you satisfied. But in order to negotiate that, you need to understand your rights and obligations under state law and as defined by your lease. If you expect any issues, it may be best to find a lawyer and ask for their advice.

Woman reading on a laptop.
Don’t be afraid to seek legal advice about your lease.

Come to an agreement with your landlord

The best way to get out of a lease is by coming to a mutually beneficial agreement with your landlord. If you have a good relationship with your landlord, this is usually not too hard. They’ve probably had people breaking leases before. In fact, they might even have policies and procedures for how to do it. So get in touch with them, let them know that you plan on moving out, and ask them how to do so without causing problems for either of you. Here are some options to consider:

  • pay a fee to get out of the contract; even a substantial fee may be worth it if it’s lower than the rent you’re on the hook for
  • find a new tenant to replace you; your landlord is more likely to let you out of the lease if they have someone else to take your place
  • sublet your place if your lease allows it; that way someone else will be paying the rent instead of you
  • don’t change landlords at all if that’s an option – if you’re moving locally, you may be able to move into a different building your landlord manages so that neither of you loses anything with your relocation
  • annoy your landlord into letting you out of your lease; it’s not the most ethical way to get out of a lease but as long as you don’t harass them, you can force their hand by being annoying

Remember to get your agreement in writing for it to count.

Make a case for constructive eviction

Thus far, we’ve assumed that you’re breaking a rental lease in Manhattan of your own volition. But you may also be moving out because there are issues with the place you’re living. If that’s the case, you may be able to make a case for constructive eviction. This is risky because you have to move out first, then prove there are serious problems with the apartment or building that made it uninhabitable and caused your eviction. Bedbugs, mold, lead paint, health and safety code violations, and similar issues are all valid reasons for this. If you can prove they affected you, you can terminate your lease early without consequences. But if you can’t, you’ll be on the hook for rent you owe. It’s a high-risk, high-reward game.

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