September 4, 2015
There are landlords out there who will never pay a tenant a penny to leave an apartment under any circumstances, no matter how beneficial it might be to get the unit to turn over. That is not necessarily a crazy position to take. Be that as it may, if you are a tenant who might want to vacate your apartment early, and you suspect that doing so would have some value to your landlord (because your lease is under market in a free market context or the landlord will get a vacancy increase in a Rent Stabilized context) then do not make an assumption that the landlord will never offer you any money for a buyout. Many landlords will, if asked nicely and asked correctly, at least defray a tenant’s moving expenses in a rising market.
The tenant-client in this story was contemplating moving from his Rent Stabilized building in Brooklyn to possibly accept a job in another city. He approached the landlord, on his own, and asked for a “buyout”, a sum of money that the landlord would pay in exchange for the tenant agreeing to move (the landlord didn’t know the tenant was probably moving anyway). The landlord offered the tenant some money, but it wasn’t as much as the tenant had hoped for.
The tenant hired Itkowitz PLLC. We sent a letter to the landlord, opening a new level of negotiations. We were nice about it. (It is amazing to this author, Michelle Itkowitz, how many people do not understand the power of being courteous, pleasant, and professional while negotiating…but we digress). We demonstrated some math to the landlord, explaining why we thought the buyout number could be higher, and still be extremely beneficial to the landlord. We also pointed out that due to a recent fire in the building, the subject apartment had been damaged and needed a great deal of work. Thus, we presented the upside to the landlord of spending some more money on the buyout and the downside of keeping this tenant around.
The negotiation resulted in a buyout number that was more than double what he started with. Tenant sent us this pretty thank you card.