This week, you'll find our partner, Glenn H. Spiegel, on the New York Times website, responding to a reader's question on lease renewals in the fair-market context.
Replacing Roommates Gets Expensive
Q I live in an unregulated four-bedroom apartment with three other roommates. Two will be moving out at the end of the lease. The management company says that in order to replace them, it will be charging a $3,800 broker’s fee, along with a new application fee and credit check. We will also have to pay a total rent increase of $400. Is this legal?
A “A landlord is usually under no obligation to renew an expiring free-market lease or to engage in tenant-swapping,” said Glenn H. Spiegel, a Manhattan real estate lawyer. Unless options to extend the tenancy and to replace the named parties were previously negotiated, a landlord would be within his or her rights to insist that all tenants vacate the space at the end of the lease.
So if the letter writer and the other roommate want to remain, and need to share the cost of the apartment with two new roommates, a renewal may be conditioned on a rent increase, together with the payment of renewal-related costs like a broker’s fee, an application fee and a credit-investigation charge.
If the landlord’s terms are unacceptable, Mr. Spiegel said, the letter writer is free to present a counterproposal. If the parties can’t reach an agreement, the tenant may have to vacate the space when the lease expires.