Renovations while stilll paying rent?

bigreidJanuary 8, 2009

My family and I just moved out of our old apartment into a new house. Unfortunately, our landlord will not let us out of our lease and we still have 3 months to go. We went to check the mail the other day because we have been moved out for about a month now and the landlord was inside the apt. doing repairs and renovations. The wood floors are partially sanded, all of the blinds are taken off of the windows, the rooms have been repainted, covers are off light switches and outlets, paneling has been removed from a wall and is leaning up against another, doors are removed from bedroom closets, there is a large compressor in the middle of the living room, there are paint supplies, blinds, chemicals, a power saw, step stool, vacuum, and lighting all strewn across one of the rooms. I am still paying rent for this place. I never gave her permission to do this. If something happened to my house today, I should be able to go back to my apt. and live there since I am still paying rent. This place is not liveable. Also, all of the utilities are still in my name, so I am paying for her to heat and light the place while she is working. I am thinking about transferring all of the utilities back into her name and not paying rent anymore. What do you think?

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moonshadow

Not kosher. Your LL is treating it as a vacant unit (I never do heavy remodeling like that when I have a lease in force.) With lease still in force and paying what you are, you could legally walk in today and stake a claim to the place, for crying out loud.

You're getting taken for a ride. Before shutting off utilities and stopping rent (which could be detrimental to you) I would start with a Certified letter to LL stating condition of house just as you did above. (Can you get photos?) If locks were changed, that's another strike against LL, since you're still paying rent. State in your letter that since the LL would not relieve you of the lease early, and you are still paying rent and utilities, possession is yours. If they want to continue with remodeling, then considering the unit is not habitable they are violating the lease terms and you expect to be released in writing from your lease and that you will also turn off utilities. Give them 7 business days to respond. What that does is create a paper trail should you need it if attorney/court becomes involved. Actually, I would send two ways, Certified (so signature is required) and w/proof of mailing. Sometimes people refuse mail when they see who it's from so it sits at PO, then after a couple more attempts PO will notify you it's not being accepted. So if you mail w/proof of mailing you've got something else as back up (even tho it doesn't prove they got it, it will help).

Since all that activity is going on, odds are good they are not going to stop remodeling for 3 months to ride out the rest of the lease term.

Doubt LL can claim it's been abandoned because you're still paying rent/utilities. My concern as a LL would be pipes freezing and bursting if applicable in your area, so I would leave heat set and a slight drip in water. You don't want to be accused of property damage. (Wow, more I mull this over, it's not only shady, it's weird of your LL.)

If you have your lease, the best thing you can do is quote any pertinent clauses in it. Google your state's Landlord Tenant laws as well and specifically refer to those in your letter.

That might be just the nudge they need to back off without taking it up a notch and getting into legal arena. What you don't want is to make the wrong move so it looks like you broke the lease. Far better for you not to land on that side.

If no response, or LL won't cooperate, I would consult an attorney. What they're doing is unethical.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 12:43PM
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camlan

I agree with everything moonshadow said.

In addition, many states have laws that require landlords to actively seek new tenants in situations such as yours, where you have moved out but are still paying rent on the unit. So that is another thing to ask about--the landlord should be able to point you towards ads in the paper or on the internet advertising your apartment for rent. If there aren't any, that's one more strike against him.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 5:45PM
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debbieg401969_hotmail_com

i have made an agreement with two people it was actually their idea. they said that they would pay rent until april which is five months advance provided i use the money to renovate my basement. well i have and i have used all of the money and they still arent happy. i was never in a position to pay out that kind of money to get my basement renovated and now they want to move and are asking for their money back. the one is actually yelling, cursing and causing me a lot of grief. i would really like some advice on this. also this was all verbal and there were no receipts issued because it was more of an agreement that was fixed term. they are also in my space while i am at work as my kids tell me and leaving messes all over my kitchen. what do i do. i used all the money just as they wanted and i made no profit from this.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 12:26AM
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