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Ask Michael Lykken, Esq Your Own Question
Michael Lykken, Esq
Michael Lykken, Esq,
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 85
Experience:  Partner at Soares & Lykken, Attorneys at Law
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Two months ago we signed an lease (1yr) and put down a

Customer Question

Two months ago we signed an lease (1yr) and put down a deposit (1595.00) on a condo, with a move in date of 11/15/2015. The week prior to move in we started to contact the property manager to set an appointment to get the keys: condo, mailbox, elevator/club house key and the entry key for the entry gate to the community. On 11/14/2015 , we were advised the access key would be in a lockbox on the door and mailbox and club house/elevator key would be in a drawer in the condo. Upon entering the condo, we noted the condition of the property: Glass sliding doors stick and are difficult to slide, screen doors don't latch, no smoke detectors work and one is missing, the sliding glass door in the shower is only attached by one wheel and doesn't slide, several light fixtures aren't working (they may need light bulbs, I don't know), bathroom fans don't work, the walls still have nails and nail holes, the former tenant left a propane b-b-que on the porch that doesn't work. The owner said that she could leave it and he said he didn't even know if it worked. It doesn't and hasn't in sometime. He listed that the unit came with a washer and dryer, it was advertised in Zillow and it's in the lease. The dryer is not in the unit and when we asked him about it, he said that he knew it belonged to the former tenant, but listed that it came with the apartment even though he knew she would take it with her. The condo was left dirty: unclean oven, greasy build up on the plastic drop down ceiling tiles in the kitchen, the kitchen wall is stained with something purple (the wall is painted a brown so it's hard to tell the actual color but it looks purple). Now, he did have both bedroom carpets cleaned and vacuumed. we have notified him that we can't take possession of the apartment due to these issues. We have sent an email advising that we are still looking forward to moving in, but will require that these items be taken care of first. My questions are does he have to address these issues before we are responsible for paying the rent? We were going to we 800.00 for the last two weeks of November. And If he says that he isn't going to address these issues can we legally back out of the signed lease and get our 1595.00 security deposit back? At one point in our discussion he said that he would make note of the poor condition of the apartment on the lease and that we "could work it out at the end of the lease". what I understood was that he wouldn't pay to have the apartment cleaned prior to us moving in or reimburse us to have the apartment cleaned , but that he wouldn't expect it to be very clean when we left. Any advice would be appreciated.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Michael Lykken, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is ***** ***** I am a licensed California attorney. The question doesn't indicate which state you are in, so I would need to know this. I can give you general advice, though. First, did you get to see the condo before you signed the lease? Second, the smoking detectors have to be in working order, and in California you are required to have carbon monoxide detectors. Third, the washer and dryer being listed in the lease as part of the lease, but not being there, is problematic for the landlord as well (having your own washer and dryer makes the rental worth more). Fourth, does the lease have any clauses regarding cleanliness of the unit upon move-in? That could provide another ground if it does. In California you are only required to return the property in the condition it was in when you moved in, so it sounds like that is what he is saying. If you want to get out of the lease, you probably have enough that you could do so. You could just tell him that the washer and dryer are material terms, and so are the smoke detectors, so you would rather cancel the agreement because he can't provide what you agreed to in the lease.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm in California. We did see the condo prior to signing the lease, but the tenant was still in the condo and we couldn't go through it like we did on the 15th. He has a clause in the lease that "the tenant will provide landlord a list of items that are damaged or not in operable condition within 3 days after commencement date, not as a contingency of this agreement, but rather as an acknowledgement of the condition of the premises". He wanted to security deposit in advance in-case we backed out at the last minute, He stated it was so he could still pay that months rent even if no one was in it.
Expert:  Michael Lykken, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Well, in this case you have actual fraud by the landlord's inclusion of the washer and dryer in lease even though he knew that they were owned by the previous tenant and would not be provided to you. I would tell him that lease isn't valid because he can't provide you with those items. Also, he can't legally rent the unit to you without working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Because he can't legally rent to you, and lied to you about the washer and dryer, he has no right to keep the deposit and you could pursue him in small claims court if necessary.

Expert:  Michael Lykken, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I hope you were happy with my service. I only receive credit for this answer if you rate my service, so if you could do this I would appreciate it. Thank you!

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