What are our options? We already signed the lease are we required to pay rent for the full month?

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What are our options? We already signed the lease are we required to pay rent for the full month?

My girlfriend and I signed a one year lease for a rental home on April 10, 2009. Our move-in date was set for May 1st then moved to June 1st because the current tenants asked for an additional month in order to move. Today is May 28th and the current tenants are still living in the house and intend to stay through May 31st. The lease states “Lessee acknowledges that he has inspected the Property and accepts the Property in ‘as-in’ condition for the use intended.” There is absolutely no way that this company can make the necessary repairs and mandatory cleaning with no time between tenants.

Asked on May 28, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If you signed a lease accepting the property in "as is" condition, you may not have many options--contractually, you've agreed to take the property in the shape it's in. If there's another clause in the contract that obligates the landlord to repairs and cleaning, that may be a different matter, but in the absence of any contractual language to the contrary, a clause that you take the property as is will--unfortunately--settle the matter.

Has the previous tenant caused any damage, or made the apartment much less clean and liveable, in that extra month they've been there? If the apartment was changed for the worse AFTER you signed the lease, you might have a cause of action--in signing the lease, you agreed to take the apartment as it was when you signed. However, if you agreed to the tenant staying in longer, especially if you agreed in writing, you may still have no case or a weak case at best vs. the landlord. By agreeing to let the old tenant stay, you'd be agreeing to, at least, normal additional wear and tear, and any problems caused by having someone in the space.

If you didn't agree--if the landlord unilaterally told you the other tenant would be allowed to stay an extra month, and didn't really give you a choice in the matter--then you would be able to at least get the landlord to fix problems caused during that month. Of course, proving the problems were caused that month could itself be a problem...

You might also have a cause of action against the previous tenant for additional costs they've imposed on you. If they damaged a wall or door, for example, so that you'd have to pay to fix it, you could instead demand that they pay. The issue of course comes down to how much it costs, and how much money and trouble it would take to force the previous tenant to pay.

You might have to take this as a learning experience, and next time, make sure you have in writing the landlord's obligations vis-a-vis fixing and cleaning the apartment.


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