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Legal Information: New York

Housing Laws

November 9, 2020

What documents or proof do I need to give to my landlord to get out of my lease if I am a victim?

To end your lease, you must provide your landlord with written notice that states that you or a member of your household has experienced domestic violence and reasonably fears staying in the leased housing because of possible domestic violence in the future.1 Your notice should include the date that you would like your lease to terminate and that date must be at least 30 days from the date that your notice is delivered. If you mail your notice, it is considered “delivered” five days after you mail it.2

Within 25 days of giving your landlord notice, you must provide proof that you or a member of your household is a victim of domestic violence. Proof of domestic violence can include at least one of the following documents:

  • a temporary or final order of protection;
  • a record, complaint, or report from a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency of an act of domestic violence;
  • a record from a health care provider for treatment related to domestic violence; or
  • a written statement from a qualified third party to whom you or a member of your household reported the domestic violence.3

The law includes a sample of the written statement that a qualified third party can submit to your landlord.4

1 NY Real Prop § 227-c(1)
2 NY Real Prop § 227-c(2)(a)
3 NY Real Prop § 227-c(2)(c)
4 NY Real Prop § 227-c(2)(d)

What happens if the judge ends my lease early?

If the judge decides that you have met the requirements to end your lease early, the judge will include in the order the exact date the lease will end. The termination date will be between 30 and 150 days after the due date of the next rent payment.

Before you can officially end your lease based on the judge’s order, you have to:

  • pay the landlord any money or rent due under the lease or rental agreement; and
  • make sure that the rental unit doesn’t have anyone else living in it (“deliver the premises to the landlord free from all occupants”). The only exceptions are that:
    • you are not responsible for making the abuser leave; and
    • any roommates who are allowed to stay according to the judge’s order can still be there.1

1 NY Real Prop § 227-c(2)(b)

Once I notify my landlord that I want to end my lease, do I still have to pay my rent?

After you end your lease under this law, you will not be responsible for rent from the date that your lease is terminated.1 The termination date must be at least 30 days after you deliver notice of the termination to your landlord.2 You are still responsible to pay the rent for those 30 days however.

1 NY Real Prop § 227-c(1)
2 NY Real Prop § 227-c(2)(a)

What happens if the landlord does not let me break my lease?

Any landlord who purposefully violates this housing law could be responsible for paying you:

  • a penalty (“liquidated damages”) up to $1,000;
  • the cost of any money you lost due to the violation (“actual damages”);
  • costs for going to court or other costs related to the violation; and
  • attorney’s fees if you have to take your landlord to court due to the violation.1

1 NY Real Prop § 227-c(6)

Who is considered a qualified third party?

A “qualified third party” is the phrase used in the law to describe the person to whom you or a member of your household reported the domestic violence. The qualified third party can provide a written statement to your landlord as proof that you or a member of your household are a victim of domestic violence.1 A qualified third party must be one of the following:

  • any law enforcement officer;
  • an employee of a state court;
  • an attorney;
  • a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, registered nurse, therapist or clinical professional counselor licensed to practice in any state;
  • a person who works for a government or non-profit organization that advises or provides services to people regarding domestic violence; or
  • any member of the clergy of a church or religious society or denomination.2

1 NY Real Prop § 227-c(c)(iv)
2 NY Real Prop § 227-c(2)(A)