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How to Assign Your Lease in New York

If you need to break your lease early in New York, you can transfer the remainder of your lease term to a replacement tenant.


If you're renting in New York and you need to leave for good, then you can find someone who wants to take over your unit and assign the remainder of the lease to them. Once the lease expires, they can either sign a new lease with your landlord or leave. It's a great option for any renter who wants to find a place to live for less than 12 months.

This is one way to replace yourself on your lease so you can leave early. It may not be the best way depending on your situation, so make sure to read up on your different options before you start the lease transfer process. If you'd rather do less reading you can hand your lease over to Caretaker now and we'll manage the process for you. Otherwise, the below guide will walk you through the process of transferring your lease to a replacement tenant.

1. Check your landlord's policies

Many landlords require you to pay a lease transfer fee with them in order to assign your lease to someone else. While this won't be as expensive as a lease breakage fee, it can be up to $1,000. Before you start looking for a replacement tenant make sure you understand what—if any—additional fees will be involved You can ask your landlord what their transfer fee is.

2. Start looking for a qualified tenant

Gather all of the information you'll need in order to market your listing. Most importantly, be specific about the length of the lease (the the number of months left on your lease), if the rent will increase when your lease ends and any extra fees your prospective replacement tenant would need to know about.

Anyone you find is going to have to go through exactly the same steps to apply to your apartment as you did, so they will need to be as qualified as you in terms of income and credit score range.

3. Review your applicant's information

In New York, a landlord isn't explicitly required to mitigate the damages caused by lost rent. This means that if there are six months left on your lease in New York then your landlord could force you to pay for all six months, and leave the unit vacant while you pay the rent.

However, if you find a qualified replacement tenant then your landlord in New York is required to prove that they are reasonably refusing your applicant. This means that they can only refuse a tenant based on a weakness in their rental application that would lead them to deny the tenant in any other situation. If your applicant has a credit score or income that is as high as yours or higher then it would be hard to impossible for your landlord to argue that they reasonably refused him or her.

This is why it's so important to prepare a rental application in exactly the format requested by your landlord. Accept an applicant on Caretaker to get a rental application that will work for your landlord.

4. Prepare a lease assignment agreement for New York

You will need to draft a lease assignment agreement and then you and your applicant will need to sign it. Any lease assignment agreement should also allow the landlord to sign it in order to give you consent, and should include a clause that releases you from the lease upon the assignment.

5. Send the application to your landlord

Combine the assignment agreement and fully-completed rental application and send them to your landlord. Unlike with sublets, the law doesn't specify exactly how you should send your request for assignment. In most cases these can be emailed but if you have a landlord that is not responsive on email, very strict or who you suspect may not act in good faith then you should send the request via certified mail, return receipt requested. As much documentation as possible is always a good idea.

They are required to release you from the lease with thirty days notice unless they can prove reasonable refusal. That's why it's so important to find an applicant who is as qualified as you!

6. Sign the agreement

For the assignment to take place your landlord must sign the agreement that you sent them. They may also have their own form agreement or letter that releases you from the lease.

How Caretaker can help

Caretaker for leaseholders was created to make it easy for people to get out of their lease early without a lot of extra work. Your landlord is probably required to accept your replacement tenant in some way as long as they're qualified, so the first thing our team would do if you sign up is speak with them on your behalf to make sure you'll be able to leave with a good reference.

We've gathered some more resources that we suggest you take a look at. Many of these are customized for your local jurisdiction, so make sure to choose your state from the dropdown menu on this page.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.