Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Finances, Finances

with 7 comments

Total Black: $1,097.64
Total Red: $235,215.12

Co-Clerk’s advice, mentioned yesterday in A Nice Gesture has been weighing on my mind.  I’ve got to a lot to finance in a very short period of time: pack and move my belongings to Pennsylvania, fly myself (and probably another person) to the new location with two cats in tow, put down first month’s rent, security deposition, and possibly last—and, given what Co-Clerk mentioned in A Nice Gesture, probably second month’s rent too.  Just to be safe.  And then there’s any other incidental expenses along the way, like buying a car.  I’m starting to get more than a bit worried about financing this move to get to the clerkship.  But first I need to deal with my apartment.

I heard back from the landlord’s management company.  I have three options: 1) sublet the apartment at a rate $200 higher than I currently pay per month, so $2,200 per month.  2) Find a replacement—not someone to finish my lease, someone to take over the apartment altogether and sign a new lease.  3) Vacate the apartment and forfeit my security deposit.

I’ve thought about Option One a few times in passing.  The lease only goes until October.  Plenty of people who come to New York for the summer, many from June through until the end of August.  That’s three months right there, leaving me only September and October to worry about.  Plus, I could avoid the hassle of moving all my belongings for the moment and keep everything in place and offer it “furnished” for five months.  But I’m unclear why the landlord gets to, or why the management company thinks it can, increase the rent an additional $200 per month for the privilege, I suppose, of allowing me to sublet the apartment.  Either way, this option makes no sense unless I get a sublessor for the full five months.  Assuming I do, it’s not unbearably difficult to set-up.  I subleased my apartment last summer for at least two months while I was in Scranton studying for the Pennsylvania bar exam.  It buys me time to move my belongings and ensures I get at least something from my security deposit in return.  Coming back to New York in October for a long weekend really wouldn’t be that burdensome.  I’ll have moved all my books and personal belongings before I relocate, so all that would be left in the apartment would be the bed, mattresses, wardrobe, night stand, bookshelves, sofa, arm-chair, entertainment center, and kitchen table, dishes, etc.  And Option One means my furniture sits in my mother’s basement for fewer months than if I move it now.  Basements are never good for furniture’s smell.

Option Two is the most financially sound:  I cut my ties to New York and the apartment, I take all of my personal property out.  Done.  Over.  No need to return.  No legal obligations still tying me here.  And I’d get my security deposit back now when I need it, and not in October or November when my lease ends.  But finding someone to take over the apartment will be difficult.  Especially while it’s cluttered with all my belongings strewn about everywhere.  Hard to get a good feel for an apartment when it’s occupied.

Option Three is the easiest.  Just leave.  But forfeit my security deposit.  And I’m unsure what that equates to if the landlord want to retain a portion of my security deposit for damages to the apartment.  Would I have to fork over even more money?  Frankly, I’m slightly sickened by the thought of forfeiting two thousand dollars to this landlord of all I’ve ever had.  Given the bedbug problem when I moved in and the way their attorneys treated me—like an account and not like a person or even a client.  I was a liability they needed to mitigate.  But I’ll digress from that discussion for now.

It’s difficult not to let emotions sway my thinking on this matter.  I’m certainly unsure which option to pursue.  Not a lot of time left either.  I really need that $2,000 over these next few months.  Plus, I’m annoyed by these

I think I may start by checking in with the broker who found me this apartment nearly two years ago.  If I can find him again that is.  The point of a broker is to be middleman between the prospective tenant and the landlord, right?  So I start by inquiring whether a broker can market the apartment on my behalf or must they have the landlord’s consent?  Even so, I don’t see the landlord refusing.  They gave me Option Two as an option.  Each isn’t mutually exclusive to the other.  Theoretically I could sublet until the summer’s over, then find a new tenant to take over the apartment—thus pursuing Options One and Two in succession.  And all of this is based solely on the options provided by the management company—and not checked against applicable law.

I’m not going to take the easy way out this time.  If I have to, fine.  But only after I’ve tried to ensure that I recoup my security deposit.  Otherwise—as temp attorneys sometimes say—I’m leaving money on the table.

7 Responses

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  1. Have you thought about selling the furniture? It would provide extra money for the move, negate the cost of moving the furniture to PA, and clear the apartment for potentional renters…


    April 29, 2010 at 22:12

  2. I’ve thought about it. But after talking it over with a friend and former law school colleague, OJ—he hasn’t commented in awhile though—I decided against it. The clerkship is only for a year. So I’ll end up needing to purchase furniture again when I get back: a bed, a desk, etc. Plus I’ll have to haul all my books, personal papers, dishes, etc. back to my mother’s house in Pennsylvania anyway—no sense to pay for storage in New York—so there’s really no cost to negate. If I had a car and could just drive a lot of boxes and odd things back and forth, that might negate the cost of moving furniture.

    That all said, if I could get a decent price for much of my furniture—like at least 1/2, I might give it a thought. But searches on Craigslist reveal pretty dirt-cheap prices for furniture. Often people are stuck having to give it away. 😦

    Laid-off Lawyer

    April 30, 2010 at 00:17

  3. Unless you can find someone to take it over relatively quickly, your best option is actually probably to leave it, and your security deposit, behind.

    You’re in a spot with very little time to maneuver. If you sublet and only get those 3 months, you’re still on the hook for $4000 for the remaining two, so you’ll end up forfeiting the security deposit anyway.

    I know it sucks, but that’s part of the cost of taking this clerkship while in the lease 😦

    Kind of like being invested in a mutual fund and you need to withdraw money NOW–you have to liquidate at whatever the price is and sometimes that is not good. When you’re under the gun, you’re generally not going to get a good deal.



    April 30, 2010 at 10:44

  4. Renting an apartment in New York is fairly easy. Especially if you live in a central area. You should have no problem subletting for $200 higher or a new lease – especially if there is no broker fee. Start posting ads on craigslist asap. I lived near Columbus Circle and each time I had to sublet my apartment I was flooded with offers for all time frames. Do not forfeit your deposit.


    May 1, 2010 at 11:53

  5. Ah, so my ignorance of the NYC rental market led me to provide poor advice!

    Sorry about that–just never lived anywhere like that before!



    May 1, 2010 at 17:56

  6. What was the name of that website on which you were able to watch television?


    BTW, good luck with everything.


    May 1, 2010 at 20:04


    Then click Live TV.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    May 1, 2010 at 20:13

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