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Can victims of domestic violence terminate a lease?

People tend to rent apartments with significant others and family members in New York. Family members and significant others get into arguments and fights from time to time. Most of the time these fights or arguments are verbal in nature. However, sometimes, these fights turn violent and one person ends up being the victim of domestic violence. If people are the victims of domestic violence, ensuring their safety is usually their top concern.

In order to ensure their safety, they may feel that it is best to relocate as opposed to stay in their current apartment. But, many victims are still under a current lease obligation and may feel stuck and it could create a landlord/tenant dispute. Luckily the law allows victims of domestic violence to terminate their leases early if certain requirements have been met.

First, the victim must be protected by a current order of protection. Second, they must first have a verbal conversation with the landlord about breaking the lease early. If the landlord allows it, then the tenant can move out.

Nonetheless, if the landlord does not agree, then the tenant can ask the court to order a termination of the lease. The tenant must give the landlord at least 10-days notice before doing this.

They also must demonstrate that if they stay in the apartment, their safety is at risk and that relocating would significantly reduce the safety risks. The court then can terminate the lease if all rents are current as of the date of the hearing/order.

Unfortunately, there are many victims of domestic violence in New York. In order to help ensure their safety, they may be able to terminate the leases and relocate if they are currently protected by an order of protection. This may require a hearing before a judge and it is important to know the law and what evidence is needed prior to the hearing. Experienced attorneys understand how these hearings work and may be able to guide one through it.

Source:, "Tenants' Rights Guide," accessed on Sept. 12, 2017

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