Lease Clause Requiring Automatic Forfeiture for Nonpayment Invalid
LVT Number: 12362
Facts: Tenant moved into an apartment under a seven-year lease that called for landlord to make certain apartment improvements. Tenant withheld rent, claiming that landlord didn't make those improvements. Landlord in turn sent tenant a termination notice based on a lease clause calling for automatic cancellation of the lease if tenant didn't pay rent. Landlord then sued to evict tenant. Court: Landlord loses. The lease clause calling for automatic forfeiture of tenant's lease for nonpayment goes against public policy. A lease is a contract, and landlord's forfeiture clause interferes with tenant's right to cure rent defaults or to claim a breach of the warranty of habitability or other lease provisions.
The Semans Family L.P. v. Kennedy: NYLJ, p. 27, col. 5 (5/20/98) (Civ. Ct. NY; Stallman, J)