Am I entitled to my money back if my landlord is illegally renting to me?

UPDATED: Aug 25, 2012

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Am I entitled to my money back if my landlord is illegally renting to me?

I am renting a granny flat/in-law unit and recently found out that there was never a permit pulled to build my house, which is a garage conversion into a granny flat/in law unit. I am moving out and want to know if I am entitled to my previous months rent that I paid since they illegally entered into a lease with me, being that the house is not legal (no permits ever pulled or filed).

Asked on August 25, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If the apartment is indeed an illegal conversion, then in California under the case of Gruzen v. Henry, the landlord is not entitled to collect or request ANY rent. It is illegal if the structure that is there does not match the "Certificate of Occupancy" or the legal use matches the actual use of the property.  Now, how case law rules on recouping past rent in unclear to me so speak with an attorney in your area on the matter.  But it may indeed be possible.  Good luck. 

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