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Is my lease legal and binding?

Long Island City, NY |

My father and I shared an apartment in new york city until he passed away last year. I had no money and nowhere else to go and was pushed into signing a renewal lease for 1 year. I have 2 months left on the lease and have been waiting to move out. I simply cannot afford it here. Today I looked over the lease and realized its not in my name its in my fathers. Is this lease considered legal. Am i bound to this lease even though it is not under my name? I owe half of this months rent and would like to get out before that debt increases over the next two months. What would be the consequences of doing so?

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Attorney answers 2


Dear LIC Tenant:

If your father was a rent stabilized tenant, you were a family member entitled to succeed to his tenancy in the event of his passing. The renewal lease you had was likely due to the legal right to succeed to the tenancy, but since the landlord did not go the extra mile and convert the lease to your name, your tenancy continued on the same terms and conditions as your father's tenancy. Without this lease, you would have had to move out when the last lease expired if you did not claim rights as a successor tenant. If the tenancy is rent stabilized it is "legal."

if you want to consider moving out early and surrendering your tenancy rights, is there a reason you did not approach the landlord on your own to request early release and termination?

If you feel you cannot do this on your own, then you should hire an attorney.

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.



I have spoken lightly to the landlord who is willing to let me leave but my concern is i will not be able to adequately pay back the rent owed to her for sometime. ($500) Moving for me would be impossible If i were to continue to pay her and the longer I stay the worse this situation will get. It is very likely I will leave without paying this $500 in the end. What kind of problems could I expect? Would she even be able to do anything to me lacking any information on me personally?

Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Warren Smollens


OK. If you do not work this out with the landlord before you move, you will owe at least $500 and perhaps the two months remaining on the lease. If your landlord thinks you are worth pursuing in court, she has six years to decide to sue. If she gains a judgment, she will have 10-20 years to collect. So try to work this out before you move. And if you cannot, then hope for the best.


If you would like to leave, you can approach your landlord. Most landlords are thrilled to allow rent stabilized tenants to leave mid-lease, inasmuch as it allows the owner to raise the rent. Getting out should be a relatively easy negotiation. However, to answer your question, if your father had already passed away and the landlord knew of his death when he offered you a renewal lease, he should have put the lease in your name, not your father's. It would be difficult for him to obtain a money judgment against you, but, of course, should he try, you should never ignore court documents.