What can I do if my landlord has us living somewhere else while he’s still building the place we signed our lease for?

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What can I do if my landlord has us living somewhere else while he’s still building the place we signed our lease for?

We signed our lease for a duplex 6 months ago. It was still being built but the landlord guaranteed it would be finished the first of last month (start of the lease). He didn’t finish and is having us stay at one of his other places while he does finish. It’s now 6 weeks later and he hasn’t made any progress on the place. I know we can get out of the lease, but what other rights do we have? We should be able to get our deposit back, but what about the 2 months rent we’ve paid and any other damages that could have incurred?

Asked on July 18, 2011 under Real Estate Law, South Dakota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You probably cannot get the rent back, unless and only to the extent that you paid rent in excess of what you would you have paid for the premises you agreed to lease, or to the extent you can show that you were paying over fair market value for the premises you stayed in. That is, you agreed to pay $X per month for a certain place; if you received and stayed in comparable premises for the same price, you don't have a basis to seek compensation. If you were forced to pay substantially more than the lease amount had been, that might give you the grounds for recovery, or if you paid the lease rent for premises that should not command such rent.

You may also be able to recover out-of-pocket costs, such as: additional moving expenses, if you had to move more often than you should have; storage, if you had to store goods; etc.


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