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In the State of New York, people who occupy unregulated apartments without the benefit of lease agreements are typically considered "month-to-month" tenants whose rights to occupy their units may be ended upon thirty days' notice terminating the tenancy. [Real Property Law sections 232-a (within NYC), 232-b (outside of NYC)]

The law is clear that when a tenant refuses to leave such an apartment voluntarily, an eviction proceeding may not be commenced until such time as that formal notice is given. (Within the New York City area the termination notice must be in writing. Outside of the five boroughs the notice may be in oral or written form.)

Many are often surprised to learn that outside of the five boroughs, when a month-to-month tenant decides to end the landlord-tenant relationship, the tenant is under a statutory obligation to afford the owner oral or written notice of the election. Noncompliance with this procedure can have adverse financial consequences, as was demonstrated by the outcome of a recent Appellate Term, 9th and 10th Judicial Districts, decision.

In Fajardo v. Eisner, the City Court of Yonkers found against a tenant and held him liable for an additional month's rent when he failed to comply with the governing procedure. On appeal, the Appellate Term noted in its affirmance as follows:

Pursuant to Real Property Law section 232-b, a tenant is required to give one month's notice in order to terminate a month-to-month tenancy. Since [tenant] did not give [landlord] a month's notice before he vacated in August 2004, the City Court did not err in finding that [tenant] was liable for the September 2004 rent.

Within the New York City area, while it is a good practice to advise your landlord of your decision to leave as soon as it is made, unregulated month-to-month tenants are usually under no legal obligation to give an owner notice.

For a copy of the Appellate Term's decision in Fajardo v. Eisner, please click on the following link: