Understanding Lease Buyout Agreements

Rent stabilization was one of the best things to happen to renters in New York City. It provides a shield against being priced out of your own home by skyrocketing rent increments each year. But because the market rate for rents keeps rising, landlords have strong incentives to convince current tenants to move out so that they can raise rates for new tenants.

One method that can be beneficial to both parties is the lease buyout agreement. In short, landlords offer tenants a lump sum of money if they agree to move out of their rent-controlled apartment. The terms of the buyout are negotiable, and both sides must pay attention to certain considerations before making or accepting an offer.

For Renters Considering A Tenant Buyout

If your landlord is offering to buy out your lease, only you can decide if the amount offered is worth it to you. Here are some factors to consider:

  • How much are you paying in rent and how does that compare to the current market rate?
  • Include the costs of moving into your calculation.
  • Can you afford market-rate rent on a new apartment?
  • Does it seem like your landlord is being transparent with you and disclosing all important information, including that you have the right to consult with a lawyer and the right to refuse the offer?

For Landlords Seeking A Lease Buyout Agreement

It is important to make your own calculations before offering a lease buyout. This should include a lease review of the unit's rental price and what you could get under current market rate. Then, you need to decide how much you can afford to spend on a lease buyout — what's the lowest sum you can offer that the tenant will accept?

Finally, you need to be transparent and noncoercive in your approach to the buyout (more information on that below).

The Use Of Harassment To Force A Lease Buyout

Unfortunately, it is common for landlords to pressure tenants into taking a lease buyout through harassment, intimidation and creating an inhospitable living environment. Both tenants and landlords need to know that some of these practices are illegal, while others are prohibited under the New York City Housing Maintenance Code. Unacceptable tactics include:

  • Verbal abuse, harassment and use of obscene language

  • Communicating with the tenant at his or her place of employment (without consent) or communicating at all hours of the day and night
  • Threatening or using force
  • Failing to make necessary repairs
  • Interrupting or cutting off essential services (water, heat, etc.)
  • Scheduling ongoing construction work that intentionally creates a disturbance and makes it difficult to continue living there
  • Providing false information to tenants

Tenants can report their landlords for harassment and may be eligible to receive up to $10,000 per offense in compensation. Moreover, if a tenant provides written notification that he or she does not want to be contacted for 180 days, the landlord must honor this request.

Contact Us To Discuss Your Case For Free

The Law Office of Seth Rosenfeld, Esq., is based in Forest Hills and serves all of Queens. Whether you are a landlord or a renter, we can help you draft/review/negotiate a lease buyout offer that meets your needs and achieves your goals.

To take advantage of a free initial consultation with an experienced attorney, call us at 800-699-1594 or fill out our online contact form.