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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.


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