[NYC] Tenant refuses to sign my lease

16 Replies

My tenant's lease expired June 1, refuses to sign my lease.  I presented him prior to June 1 and he shot back that my lease was full of holes while it is a simple residential lease.  He is now month to month and my lawyer is drafting up a rock solid lease which I will present him and give him 1 week to sign.  He also has a licensee living with him (not on lease) so I want to nip that in the bud now by having him put everyone on the lease.  Thoughts here?

Your tenant has trained you well.

When you have an illegal tenant in a unit, you can send the resident a lease violation notice stating that the person needs to be on the lease, and they can pay the application fee for the background check.  It could be your tenant is pushing back on signing your lease because he knows his licensee will not meet your screening requirements and he doesn't want to face those consequences.

If a resident doesn't want to sign your lease, usually the option is that they must move out.  It may be a good thing in the long run that you now have a better lease, but I expect that every time you ask this tenant to sign a lease, they will tell you all the problems it has to try to kick the can down the road.

Here is what I would do when you present them the new lease.  Tell them (in writing, and hopefully this is incorporated into your new lease) that month-to-month status adds $100 to the monthly rent.  When someone is already on month-to-month, typically only 30 days notice is required to put new rental rates into effect.  That $100/mo will give him a financial incentive to sign a new lease.

Good luck

@Eric W. Sounds like your going through the right motions getting your attorney involved in drafting the lease.  You can also ask your attorney to add a 'cover page' in the front of your lease on his letterhead stating these are the terms of the lease, you can sign the new lease by said due date or this is your 30 day notice'.  Having the letterhead will make your lease look more 'real' to help shoot down any perceived holes.  Of course I don't know NYs rules so check with your attorney.  

I agree with @Greg Scott 's advice. If they don't pay rent, then they are violating the lease. 

If they don't want to sign, then they should move out. A final resort could be to file an eviction, but of course, this should only be turned to if you feel like your other options won't work out. 

The problem is you gave them the option to keep living there month to month on the old lease. They should have only two options and option 2 is the default if they don't pursue option 1.

1. Sign the new lease.

2. Give them notice of non renewal and ask them to leave.

I would call them or meet in person and say here is the deal. My attorney updated my lease. Anyone who is not signing on to the new lease will be non-renewed, which means you need to move out. If you are not comfortable signing my new lease, then I will have my attorney draft a non-renewal letter with 30 days to vacate. Your choice whatever works best for you, thanks!

The point is you give them two options and let them choose. Staying with the current lease is not an option. Blame your attorney for the changes and tell them you have to follow their recommendation for liability reasons. 

Tenant is still paying, that's never been an issue.  Issue is that he seems like he wants some control over the situation with the lease.  He drafted one up last year that has all sorts of language like " landlord will have tenants back if noisy neighbor acts up", which I signed.  Now its time to quit that lease and clean it up so that I'm covered.  I want to avoid eviction however his behavior recently is making it harder to live with as he lives below me.  He just threatened my grill which is on my patio/ deck, technically a charcoal grill is illegal on patios in NYC however no one enforces it.  

@Greg Scott that is some great advice

I will have my lawyer draft the lease w/ cover letter:

1. if you dont sign, means month to month status which adds 100 to the lease

2. failure to sign means non renewal and they have 90 days to leave.  In NYC its 90 days if they have been living there 2+ yrs.

In all honesty, if your tenant is in NY it doesnt matter what he/she signs - you wont be able to evict them anyways since the eviction moratorium is still in effect. Sad times for landlords in NY

Originally posted by @Daniel Bryant :

In all honesty, if your tenant is in NY it doesnt matter what he/she signs - you wont be able to evict them anyways since the eviction moratorium is still in effect. Sad times for landlords in NY

 It is my understanding eviction moratorium is in effect for those impacted by covid only.  He has not been impacted by covid, even if he was, he would need to submit a form to cdc stating as such.  

Regardless, it is a market rate rental, and since he has been living there for 2 + yrs, its about the same time as when I can kick him out.  

If only this was true. If your tenant decides that he/she do not want to pay, even if they werent impacted by covid, they wont - they will simply deal with the consequences later (if there will be any). Currently there are no open courts for evictions even if you had one already filed and in hand. Im not trying to scare you or anything like that, I have over 50 tenants occupying a commercial building and thank god that most are paying, but some HAVE stopped paying and i have sought legal aid by an attorney which I paid over $3000 for eviction and between his fees and my loss of rental income Im over $18k in the hole.

@Daniel Bryant that is indeed brutal news.  However once they open up that will be virtual so it should be quicker than usual I would expect.  That said, having a eviction case open on your record is still something no tenant wants, right?

Originally posted by @Eric W. :

Tenant is still paying, that's never been an issue.  Issue is that he seems like he wants some control over the situation with the lease.  He drafted one up last year that has all sorts of language like " landlord will have tenants back if noisy neighbor acts up", which I signed.  Now its time to quit that lease and clean it up so that I'm covered.  I want to avoid eviction however his behavior recently is making it harder to live with as he lives below me.  He just threatened my grill which is on my patio/ deck, technically a charcoal grill is illegal on patios in NYC however no one enforces it.  

 Just as a learning lesson, never let a tenant modify your lease. They sign it as-is or they just don't rent from you. There is two reasons for this:

1. The type of tenant who will force you to change a contract is a difficult person. This is only going to be trouble in the future. (For example the grill threat and similar nonsense.)

2. Once they dictate the rules, they end up in the power position. At this point the tenant knows they can push you around without consequence. 

Odds are good it will never come to eviction. Once you show you are serious, he will just sign the lease. If you ask him to leave, he will likely just leave because nobody wants an eviction on their record. Good for you on taking control and dealing with this. 

Originally posted by @Eric W. :

@Daniel Bryant that is indeed brutal news.  However once they open up that will be virtual so it should be quicker than usual I would expect.  That said, having a eviction case open on your record is still something no tenant wants, right?

Sure, it really all depends on who the person is. At this point I am in no way shape or form changing my lease or increasing their rents when i know that the laws here in NY are pretty much non-existent for renters. Youre at the mercy of having a tenant who actually cares. Not taking that chance

@Eric W.

Ok, this is long…

I do not currently landlord in NYC but my understanding is that even with a lease, it is very tenant friendly. Even before the covid moratorium, they could live there for up to a year without paying anything until the city finally sends the Marshall to kick them out, provided you took immediate proper legal action (and they know how to play the game). Or on the other hand just leave and then you have to chase and sue them for the lost rent (good luck).

A month to month rental/ lease is more favorable to you bc after you provide a written 30 day - 90 day notice, you can kick them out without cause. NYC tenant laws are WAY more favorable to the tenant and more often than not, do not help good landlords. Also DO NOT add the potentially troublesome tenant to the lease. Each Tenant on the lease can legally have one additional occupant (and the additional occupant’s kids if applicable) and immediate family (brother, sister, mom, dad, and kids) stay in YOUR apartment and there is nothing you can do about it. (Speak with your real estate attorney if this is no longer the case)

I also agree with Joe (sorry, it won’t let me tag you) do not let the tennant modify any terms of the contract unless you personally vetted it and agreed (which it seems you did), especially not something as vague as “landlord has tenant’s back”. That could lead to any unfavorable interpretation by a judge. Given the way NYC is now, they would probably grant your residence to the tenant. I obviously say that sarcastically but I also wouldn’t be that surprised.