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It Was The Lease-t You Could Do

, , , , , , , | Working | CREDIT: aalilyah | March 27, 2023

I moved to the Big Apple from Los Angeles in April and signed a lease for an apartment sight unseen. It was the same price as my LA apartment, but while in LA, $1,350 gets you a master bedroom with a walk-in closet, a private bath, and three roommates, in NYC, for $1,350, they’ve turned my closet into the bathroom and I now weigh 135 pounds thanks to the seven flights of stairs that I had to walk up every day. Some days, I would raise my arms to put on deodorant and scrape my elbow on the ceiling. One of my five roommates was a registered nurse, though, so there was the upside. The only saving grace was that this apartment was pet-friendly and had an in-unit washer and dryer.

I hated living there, and after two months when my job said I could work remotely, I packed up and went to the Caribbean. While I was there, I won the NYC housing lottery. For the first time in my life, I could afford to live by myself in NYC of all places. I’d read in forums that landlords are usually pretty happy for tenants when they win and let you out of your lease with no problem.

In my optimism, I sent the management company an email letting them know that I had won the lottery and wanted to discuss terminating my lease early. They told me to speak to the brokerage to get my room filled. The brokerage told me that I would need to pay a broker’s fee of $1,350 and still pay rent until they filled the unit, or I could try and fill it myself.

I found a guy who was already applying with the broker for another unit, and he wanted my room! Then, management said they wanted the guy I found to pay $1,400. This was genuinely the worst apartment that I’d lived in; I didn’t feel right trying to get someone to pay $1,400 for this room.

I was in a bit of a time crunch as the new guy wanted to move in on August 1st, so I needed to hire movers to take my stuff to storage the next day, but if I didn’t get the approval from management that everything was good to go on their end, then there was no point. So, I needed management to agree to let this guy take over my lease for the price that was on my lease. I argued that a new price would be a new lease, and if they wanted to do that, they would have to release me from the lease and market the apartment at this new price point. They refused, saying that I should pay the broker’s fee or forfeit my deposit and continue to pay rent until they got my room rented.

I was upset because management basically wanted to make more money and assume no risk. I would end up paying until they rented out the awful room to someone. I told them this was unfair and made no sense.

Then, management told me there was no lease takeover in the lease. I was confused because I vaguely remembered reading something about a $500 fee for a lease takeover.

Management: “Read your lease! We were doing you a favor before, but now we’re only going by the lease!”

So, I found my lease because I remembered there being this $500 clause.

I never found the $500 clause because written on the first page of the lease was Clause 2: “Length of Lease: The term of this Lease is beginning on 2/1/2022 and ending on 8/31/2022.”

I was elated! My move-in date for my new place was 8/25/2022, so I no longer needed to rush. All because management told me to read my lease. I gave them a call back and asked whether I needed the email address to send my thirty-day notice of intent to vacate or if it should be mailed as it was not specified in the lease.

Management: “You can’t break the lease!”

Me: “I’m not; it ends next month.”

I sent them a photo of the first page of the lease.

Management: *Sputtering* “You know it’s a year-long lease! This is a typo. As you know, I just took over managing the building, and I inherited some bad leases.”

I didn’t know this, but I gleefully responded:

Me: “Well, I was doing you a favor before, but now I can only go by the lease. If the lease says my term ends next month, I have to honor that.”

He hung up, furious that this was happening. At this point, I was no longer concerned about hiring movers, so when he called me back at 8:00 pm, I was ready to tell him the cut-off for the movers was 4:00 pm and that I would move out according to the lease, but he started the conversation in a somber, defeated voice:

Management: “You can move out on the thirty-first. We just have to go according to the lease. We will do a final walk-through and give you back your deposit.”

As I am still in the Caribbean, my cousin will be subletting for August, and I will be moving into my new apartment when I get back. Everything worked out in the end, all because I read my lease.

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