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Upon moving out landlord is insistent that I sign a surrender for my rent stabilized apartment, is this normal?

New York, NY |

I have a rent stabilized lease in New York City and I have vacated my apartment. I still have the keys but have informed my landlord that I have vacated the apartment, the property manager is pretty insistent that I sign a surrender. Is an explicit surrender required on a routine end of term move, and what are the risks of signing one?

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Attorney answers 3


Dear New York Tenant:

If you moved out, and your lease did not expire or otherwise end, and you retained the keys, your tenancy is alive, the landlord cannot take possession of the apartment or change the locks.

If the lease expired but you retained the keys, the landlord cannot feel safe without a statement of voluntary surrender. You may consult an attorney to learn whether your landlord will be satisfied by the return of the keys.


The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.



Thank you for responding. I guess I was unclear, The lease expires 12/31 and I plan to give back the keys before that date. I just wanted to know if the explicit surrender was necessary on top of that?

Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Warren Smollens


OK. well your landlord may not know your plans. It is traditional to turn in the keys when moving out so there is no ambiguity about the move. I would guess the landlord wanted a surrender because you retained the keys. If you personally return the keys make sure that you receive a receipt. The landlord's form for a receipt for the keys at the end of the lease may also state that you voluntarily surrendered, since your tenancy is rent stabilized and "everyone knows" a rent stabilized tenant must voluntarily surrender to avoid arguments down the road that the tenant was forced out by the landlord. You also must be certain that someone is around on the surrender date to take your keys. If you do not get the keys in, even though you moved out and the lease expired, retention of the keys beyond the end of the lease could create a holdover tenancy, subject to rent stabilization.


Your landlord wants the surrender so it is clear that he can enter and relet the apartment. As a rent stablilized tenant, you have rights in a continued occupancy and a guaranteed renewal, and the Landlord wants proof that you are not going to insist on these rights in the future.


Your landlord wants this to protect him or her in re renting. However, you should negotiate everything at once--the return of your security deposit, your landlord's agreement that s/he will not charge you rent for the remainder of the lease and any other outstanding issues between you. If there are any serious outstanding issues (such as your plans to sue him in upcoming months over the time you broke your leg on the ice on his sidewalk last winter), you should allow an attorney to help you in drafting something. Otherwise, you should just be sure to get those two items--secuirity deposit and waiver of future rent--in the agreement.

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