Notifying Tenant of Lease Violation
Q I have a rent-stabilized tenant who installed a washing machine years ago. I just became aware of it when I was in her apartment for another reason. The tenant's original lease specifies that washing machines are not allowed. Can I officially ask her to remove this washing machine? What recourse do I have if she does not comply?
A Where a lease specifically prohibits the installation of a washing machine or other laundry equipment, court decisions have found that the violation of that clause is a violation of a substantial obligation of the lease and may justify termination of the tenancy.
You should send the tenant a letter explaining the applicable clauses in the lease and how her action may justify terminating her tenancy. Most leases require you to give the tenant a prior notice to cure, also known as a default notice, before you may terminate the tenancy for a lease violation. This is a legal notice that informs the tenant that she is violating a specific lease term by having installed a washing machine. This notice to cure should demand that the tenant correct the violation by a specific date, usually within 10 days, and warns that if the violation is not corrected within the prescribed time, you will terminate the tenancy.
A valid notice to cure must specifically describe the nature of the violation and cite which lease clause the tenant has violated. It must also direct the tenant to correct the violation within a specified time period, and it must inform the tenant that you will terminate the tenancy in the event that the tenant fails to cure the default within the time period provided in the notice.