Landlord Properly Mitigated Damages After Tenant Broke Lease
LVT Number: #31418
Landlord sued former tenant for rent owed after tenant broke her lease and moved out. Landlord had rented the apartment to tenant in December 2019 at a monthly rent of $12,500. The lease gave tenant a rent concession for the first six months while awaiting a valid certificate of occupancy, during which tenant paid only a one-month security deposit and the first month's rent. But tenant never started paying rent in May 2020 as required by the lease, and moved out on Aug. 31, 2020, before her lease expired and after she was laid off from her job during the pandemic. Landlord then sued tenant and her roommate/boyfriend for unpaid rent. The parties agreed to dismissal of claims against the boyfriend since he wasn't a party to the lease.
The court ruled for landlord, finding that there was a breach of contract since tenant failed to make required rent payments. Landlord also mitigated damages by finding a new tenant, who signed a new lease for a term from Jan. 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, at a monthly rent of $10,600. Landlord gave new tenant three months free occupancy from October to December 2020 before that lease began. Landlord sought damages from tenant for rent until January 2021 plus the $1,900 difference between her rent and new tenant's rent, through June 2021. Landlord also sought reimbursement of a $8,833 brokerage fee for re-renting the unit.
The court found that landlord properly mitigated damages pursuant to Real Property Law Section 227-e. The law doesn't specify what a landlord must do to mitigate. Here, landlord moved swiftly to find a new tenant, and the former tenant had to pay only a fraction of the rent from January 2021 to the end of her lease term to cover the difference. The court also granted landlord's request to recover the broker's commission from tenant.
436 & 442 E. 13th St. Owner LLC v. Kfoury: Index No. 654527/2020, 2021 NY Slip Op 31097(U)(Sup. Ct. NY; 4/6/21; Bluth, J)