If you are a victim of domestic violence, you probably have a need to move to a new location relatively quickly, regardless of your lease status. Fortunately, New York law recognizes that fact.
Leaving Your Apartment
According to New York’s Real Property Law, Article 7, you may break your lease if you are the beneficiary of an order of protection. If you can show your protection order, your landlord should release you from any liability to pay the remainder of the lease.
If your landlord refuses to let you break the lease, you can seek a court order to force your landlord to let you break the lease if you can show that the protection order alone isn’t enough to protect you and your child. You also have to show that you made an effort to secure the voluntary consent of your landlord to terminate the agreement, and that you are acting in good faith. Finally, you have to show that you’ve been paying your rent on time.
When you terminate the lease, you must deliver the premises back to the owner free of all tenants and occupants unless there are co-lessors who are staying and honoring the lease, such as any roommates you may be living with. Your landlord cannot force your roommates to leave just because you terminate your own responsibility on the lease. The landlord must give them thirty days to decide if they want to stay or have their lease terminated as well. If they choose to stay, they get the option to add another roommate.
Evicting the Abuser
If you live in public housing and wish to remain in the apartment while forcing your abuser to leave, you may be able to get the lease split so that the landlord may evict the abuser while allowing you to stay.
You should be careful when doing this, however. If your spouse was the person who was eligible for the public housing, you will have just thirty days to find a new place to live. It’s a good idea to check and see whether you will qualify to remain in public housing on your own merits.
Fleeing the Home
What if you fled the home but want to stay?
In New York City, if you fled temporarily due to violence and express an intent to return then the landlord must give you 30 days notice before attempting to retake the premises.
Finding New Housing
It is unlawful to discriminate against victims of domestic violence. A landlord may not refuse to rent to you simply because you have been a victim of domestic violence.
You may even be eligible for a Living in Communities voucher, a program that provides housing vouchers for eligible domestic violence victims.
If your landlord is failing to comply with the law, reach out to McAdams Law today. I can help you protect your rights.
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