What are my rights if I’m a subtenant who was to take over the apartment upon it’s expiration but now the tenant wants their apartment back?

I subletted and apartment. The original tenant got married and moved to another state. We had an agreement that when the lease was up this year, she was going to let it go and I was going to initiate the process to get a new lease. However, now she wants her apartment back. I have emails probing that she left the apartment and I was taking it over; all the services are under my name. I have the copy of the checks I have deposited on her account for the rent.

Also, a witness that I was moving and taking over the apartment. I have her legal out of state address. Do I have any rights as a subletter? Should I contact the landlord and explain the situation?

Asked on May 6, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The big problem for you is that you can't force the landlord to accept you as a new tenant: the landlord was not subject to or a party to the agreement between you and the main tenant, so whatever you and the tenant agreed in now way obligates the landlord to take you on as tenant.
You can try suing the main tenant if she violated an agreement to not renew her lease so that you could at least apply to be the tenant, but as stated, that does not guaranty you anything. You might instead of trying to sue her to force her to not return/renew to instead sue her for any costs you incurred in reliance on her promise (e.g. moving costs; higher rental costs elsewhere, if you now need to rent at a higher rate to make sure you have a comparable place to live; etc.), since that is a more straightforward lawsuit and more likely to get you something.

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