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What are my legal rights for breaking my lease if I cannot live independently?

Asked by user in New York.

I understand that if my doctor certifies I can no longer live independently, my landlord has to allow me to break my lease. I want to live with my son until I recover.

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

Thank you for your question.

Under New York Real Property Law Section 227-a, you have the right to terminate your lease early if:

  • You are at least 62 years old or you have a “disability” (as defined here), and
  • You are certified by a physician as no longer able, for medical reasons, to live independently on the premises.

To terminate your lease under the above conditions, you must deliver written notice to your landlord (send it via “certified mail with return receipt requested” so you have proof of delivery). The notice must be accompanied by the physician’s certification and a notarized statement from your son (or other family member) stating that you are related and that you’ll be moving into his home for at least 6 months.

The termination of your lease will be effective 30 days after the date on which the next rental payment subsequent to the delivery of notice is due.

Before taking the above steps, I would recommend contacting Legal Services NYC. The organization helps low-income residents with housing issues. Their legal assistance hotline is open Monday through Friday from 9:30am to 4pm. Call 917-661-4500 to speak to an intake officer in any language.

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