Can I sue my landlord if they rented me a property that shouldn’t legally have been rented?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I sue my landlord if they rented me a property that shouldn’t legally have been rented?

I currently rent a property that has a reverse mortgage and homestead exemption for the elderly owner. The property was rented by a guy who claims to be the owner’s grandson. This guy didn’t show the real estate office which he hired and rented the property to me, a power of attorney or documentation allowing him to do business in the elderly owner’s name. I am currently on a 2 year lease agreement with this guy/grandson in care of the elderly owner. Recently, the county showed up at the property investigating tax fraud as the elderly owner hasn’t lived at the property in years and homestead exemption had been claimed during these times. Now the owner has died and the mortgage company wants to foreclose on the property if the full balance of the reverse mortgage isn’t paid. Now the guy/grandson who put the property up for rent is trying to find a way to shorten the period of the lease or terminate it completely. I would like to get compensated for being rented this property as it has a reverse mortgage and should not have been. In a reverse mortgage, the borrower is prohibited to rent the property as he or she has to reside at that property and also the balance could come due at any moment due to the death of the owner. The guy/grandson knew all this and still went ahead and rented me the property. The inconvience of now having to move within the first year of the 2 year lease agreement has caused a lot of stress for me and my family. What are my rights and options?

Asked on January 1, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

While you can get of the lease, of course, and not owe any further money, you cannot recover any money for the time you have lived there, even if it was illegal: the time you lived there, you lived there--you received the value of living there--and so there is no compensation for that. This means, for example, you cannot recover any of the rent paid.
If being forced to move before you "should" have (e.g. ahead of the lease term), you may be able to sue for the extra moving cost--only the actual cost; there is no compensation for stress or inconvenience--but that would be all you could get, so you need to decide if that would be worthwhile. If you do choose to sue for this, you could sue based on breach of contract and fraud.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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