The law abhors a forfeiture.  Where a landlord invokes a lease provision entitling it to unilaterally prematurely end the term of the lease unless the tenant cures an alleged lease default within a prescribed time, the notice by which such right is exercised, referred to as a “notice of default” or “notice to cure,” will be strictly construed against the landlord. Lake Anne Realty Corp. v. Sibley, 154 A.D.2d 349, 545 N.Y.S.2d 828 (2d Dept. 1989).

Thomas C. Lambert of Lambert & Shackman. Courtesy Photo

The substantive requirements for such a notice were set forth by the Court of Appeals in Chinatown Apartments, Inc. v. Lam, 51 N.Y.2d 786, 433 N.Y.S.2d 86 (1980). In Chinatown, the controlling precedent since 1980, the Court of Appeals held that the notice must (i) specifically describe the facts alleged to constitute the default and (ii) cite the specific provisions of the lease allegedly violated. The notice must meet those requirements to place the tenant in a position to cure and thereby avoid forfeiture of its leasehold estate.

Steven Shackman of Lambert & Shackman. Courtesy Photo