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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 24612
Experience:  Attorney with 14 years litigation experience
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Hi, I had a conversation with you last week about an academic

Customer Question

Hi, I had a conversation with you last week about an academic rental my kids lived in at the beach in Connecticut, and since then I have learned that it is most likely not even legal to rent it in the winter due to the lack of sheetrock on the walls. I wouldn't have gone to the town hall if she hadn't been such a pain in the ass. She kept reneging on items I was supposed to be able to do myself (I live a mile away). My question is, can I sue for breach of contract? By the way, of the $3150 she held in security, only about $700 is going to be returned to me (which is a different question).
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Hello again,
.
In order to win a breach of contract suit, you have to prove that the landlord didn't live up to their legal obligations in providing the rental unit. The landlord has to provide a habitable dwelling that meets all local code and housing requirements. So if the house was not up to code, then that could legally make it uninhabitable and could give you grounds for a suit. You would need to get something from the city or county Code Enforcement or Housing Inspector that states that the house is in violation of code and that may be tough because if children aren't living there, the landlord has no legal duty to allow them back in. Typically an local official will only follow up on a complaint if the tenant is still living there. But it is worth contacting them to see if they might force the owner to allow an inspection if they are consistently renting it out to people.
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The only problem I see is that if they stayed the entire tenancy, then sued afterward, a judge might find that even if it was not in compliance with code, they got the benefit of living there. If that is the case, the judge might either award nothing or some amount based on the diminished value of the rental due to its condition. But typically a tenant can't live somewhere for their entire tenancy and then later complain after moving out about its condition and try to get all their money back. They have to complain and file suit during the tenancy as soon as they become aware of the violations in order to recover.
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Thanks.

Barrister

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If you need further help, just reply to me via the “REPLY” button and I will be happy to continue.

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I cannot enter into an attorney client relationship, this is a public forum, and all posts are available for public viewing. There is no duty of confidentiality that attaches to any posts. The information provided is not a substitute for a local attorney’s legal advice.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I do understand about getting the benefit of the residence, and then sueing for monies back. However, I'm told that in New York if you rent an illegal rent, the tenant can not only get the deposit back, but punative damages as well. I'd be happy with the sizeable deposit back. Happier even still to send a message to this woman that she cant abuse people. Believe me when I tell you that she was lucky to have me come along - b arely a month later we had Hurricane Sandy. SHE had the benefit of income from these cottages. My view is that she shouldn't be rewarded for now nickel and diming me for making her whole there on the beach. Her house sustained quite a bit of damage. It's right in front of the cottages. Anyway, thank you for your answer; I believe that the folks in zoning and health in our small town seemed to be interested in my concerns and may be inclined to pay her a visit.

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
I would agree that she shouldn't get the benefit of renting an illegal unit so it might be worth your time and effort to sue the landlord to see if the judge would set an example with the landlord that violations of the law won't be tolerated and there are stiff consequences for doing so. But you would have to be able to definitively prove that the unit was illegal in order to win your case and that is where the local inspectors come into play. So if you can get them to provide you with something that says it was illegal, then your chances go up dramatically.
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Thanks
Barrister

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Barrister
Barrister
Attorney/Landlord/Realtor
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Attorney with 14 years litigation experience