If you’re vacating your apartment before the lease ends, there are important things you need to know and do…

Tenants sometimes need to leave their apartments prior to lease termination, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it involves relocation due to a job offer. Or, perhaps a relationship ends with the person sharing the apartment. In other cases, building services deteriorate and tenants want to move to better accommodations. These are a few of the more common situations in which people elect to leave early.

In any of these or similar circumstances, when you want to terminate a lease before the full term is up, there are critical legal issues to be addressed. Otherwise, you could have problems with the landlord down the road.

When you want to break your lease early…If you have signed a lease, and want to vacate your apartment before the lease term ends, you'll have to reach an agreement with the landlord to do so. An exception might be if conditions are so bad that a court would agree that the landlord defaulted in his or her obligations concerning habitability. Otherwise, to get consent on early departure, you'll probably need to negotiate the terms of ending your contractual obligations set forth in the lease.

For your protection, the agreement with the landlord better be in writing. Otherwise, you could be obligated to pay rent for however many months remain in your tenancy, even if you're no longer living in the apartment, and even if the landlord has rented it out to someone else.

Usually, the items that need to be discussed are: the departure date, what portion of the remaining rent is to be paid and when, the condition the unit is left in, and the timing of the security deposit's return. Of course, the particulars on all of these issues will be unique to your individual situation. Whatever you and the landlord agree to should be clearly set forth in a legal document that all parties to the transaction sign.

Avoiding Future Legal Problems By Having Proper Documentation… Whenever you have to negotiate and sign any legal agreement, it's best to have it drafted and reviewed by a knowledgeable attorney. When it comes to ending a lease before term in New York City, it's to your advantage to have your paperwork written and approved by an experienced Tenants' lawyer before you sign it.

Landlord Tenant law in New York City is complex, and it's easy to overlook important legal elements that can create a future legal problem. That's why it's often best to have a Tenant Rights lawyer represent you when you want to break any lease early. Disputes frequently arise when things aren't handled properly.

Also, most people are inexperienced at negotiation. In fact, even those who do have the skills to negotiate effectively, often fail to do as well as they could when they're bargaining for themselves.

Tenants' lawyer Jeff McAdams has extensive experience in helping tenants deal with their landlords, and in successfully negotiating early lease termination in a wide variety of circumstances.