What are my rights as a tenant who signed a lease for the 1st of this month 1 but the building isn’t completed?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are my rights as a tenant who signed a lease for the 1st of this month 1 but the building isn’t completed?

We were told our apartment would be ready to move in on the first. We signed our lease and

mailed out the security deposit to the property manager/developer/landlord. The building’s

occupancy inspections have not been completed to date, the 12th, and they say the projected date is now the 21st. They are still asking us to keep that lease date and pay the last week of the month. I think that’s absurd as we still don’t have an answer and I’d like to know what rights I have as the tenant? Has the landlord broken their end of the lease? Do I seek legal help or ask for compensation for lost working hours and sleeping on friend’s couches? I am

new to renting.

Asked on May 12, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If the unit is not ready when it should have been and you cannot move in, the landlord is in material (that is to say, important) breach of contract and you may treat the lease as terminated by that breach--unless the lease itself has some clause or term specifically addressing this situation. (If it does, you have to follow what the lease says.) Otherwise, in the absence of a lease provision addressing this situation, the landlord has failed to fulfill its obligations, so you are released from yours. You would in this case not be responsible for rent and should get your security deposit back--and you could sue if you don't.
You could also potentially sue for additional monetary costs you incurred, like keeping belongings in storage or renting a hotel room; but you cannot sue for or reocover compensation for your time or inconvenience.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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