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Apartment not ready to move in
Posted by: Rama
Date: September 09, 2006 04:54:32 AM

Hello, We have signed a lease which starts Sep 8th 06. We were told by the management that we could move-in in the morning (sep 8th). When we went to the apartment it was not ready. they were still cleaning. It was not cleaned even by the end of the day. I am very unsatisfied with their service. I had to wait in the parking lot with a child and it was very frustating. I want to cancel the lease and find another apartment. Please advice me how to deal with this situation. Thanks, Rama.
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Re: Apartment not ready to move in
Posted by: Ralph
Date: September 09, 2006 01:51:37 PM

You cannot cancel the lease unless the landlord agrees to you doing so (in writing). I doubt that any judge would consider a small delay (so far less than one day as I understand your posting) to be a material breach by the landlord, thus providing you with grounds for breaking the lease unless the lease has a clause absolutely guaranteeing that you could move in at a specific time. A default by you on the lease will likely cause you serious trouble including a possible lawsuit with a judgment in favor of the landlord and potential damage to your credit record. If the delay ends up being several days, it might be a different story, but there'd be no certainty.
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Re: Apartment not ready to move in
Posted by: Rama
Date: September 09, 2006 09:17:04 PM

The lease started on Sep 8th but the apartment is very dirty (kitchen, bathroom are horrible) it is not safe for my 3 year old child. On 8th I tried to reach the management and nobody answered my several calls. I went to the management office at 2:30pm on Fri, Sep 8th nobody was in the office. It was really very frustrating. I am now staying in a motel with my family. The apartment will not be ready till 12th september (it might take even longer). Taking this into consideration do you think I can cancel the lease? I am very unhappy and not interested in staying with this badly managed property. Advise please
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Re: Apartment not ready to move in
Posted by: Ralph
Date: September 10, 2006 12:39:21 AM

Your situation is one of the reasons why it's best to not sign a lease until you view the supposedly "ready to move into" unit. Everyone's standard of cleanliness is different. Units that many of us would not want to be in may still meet the loose official standards of habitability. Unfortunately, there are times when a person must sign the lease whle the unit is being prepared after just going vacated or, worse yet, when still occupied by the old tenant. The only protection is to have detailed information about what will be done written into the lease (or an addendum thereto). While this can be satisfactory for repairs of obviously broken things and issues such as re-carpeting or repainting, it is difficult to do for the issue of cleanliness, again, because everyone has a different definition. One cannot usually break a lease because of being unhappy or because the property is badly managed. The only reason a tenant can get out of a lease is if the landlord is in default and fails to cure the default after being given written notice of the issue and time in which to cure. The issue of default must be a “material” one, That is, it must be important and clearly a violation of the lease. Even then, the tenant may be sued and have to defend himself/herself in court, with not certainty of winning. If there is a real health or safety violation (e.g., the only toilet doesn’t work or there is not heat in the winter) a tenant can file a formal complaint with the appropriate governmental housing agency. Youu could discuss the issue of cleanliness with the agency to determine their standards. This will almost certainly result in the landlord becoming angry and may result in further problems. Most states have anti-retaliation laws that are supposed to prohibit the landlord from evicting or otherwise penalizing the tenant for taking available legal actions, but the landlord has lots of ways to retaliate without actually breaking the law (e.g., refusing to renew a lease or raising the rent higher upon renewal). I have assumed that you are on a fixed-term lease rather than on a month-to-month lease. If instead it is the latter, you can give notice (usually 30 days in most states) and terminate. Finally, you should consider consulting a competent landlord-tenant law attorney, preferably one who specializes in representing tenants in the local court and who might have some idea of how the judges would view the problem. Free help is available in some areas from tenant organizations and for college students or military personnel.
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