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Dimitry Esquire
Dimitry Esquire, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  JA Mentor, multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation & admin
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Hello. I was in an illegal sublet situation

Customer Question

Hello. I was in an illegal sublet situation, in which the tenant who rented to me did not receive permission from the landlord to rent out the room. Do I have any legal rights or is it best that I move out immediately. The property manager asked for the lease document I had signed with the tenant and mentioned that he would hand it over to the real estate lawyer. Is the document I signed with the tenant legally binding or null and void because the landlord did not give permission. What should I do in the meantime, so I could secure housing just in case I need to move? I already asked for my deposit from the tenant but she is unwilling to return it.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your question. I will do my best to assist you with your concerns. If you would like me to clarify my answer, I will be happy to do so.

Under common law if a person is unable to enter into a contract, whatever contract they entered into is null and void. That means that you do not have to enforce the contract that you have with the real tenant, and the real tenant cannot force you to pay or otherwise be in the contract with him. However you still suffered injury because you were, through no fault of your own, entered into a bona fide (good faith) agreement fully expecting the agreement to be valid. On those rights alone you can file suit against the tenant for breach of contract, return of your lease deposit, and relocation expenses. Explain that to the tenant directly and demand that he return the funds, or you will take him to court (and very likely prevail). Even if you signed a 'lease agreement', if that agreement is against the rules of the property, it is not able to be binding against you, but the real tenant is now responsible to you for your losses.


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Can the first two sentences be clarified? I mean, do I have the right to vacate the premises now that the landlord is aware of the illegal subleasing?

Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your follow-up, Gladys.

Sorry for the confusion. Since the contract is null and void, you are free to leave at any time, and the tenant cannot hold you liable under the lease. You do have the right to vacate, and you do have the right to file suit against the tenant for your relocation expenses, your security deposit, and punitive damages.

Good luck.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Ok. That answers part of it, but the property manager mentioned that while subleases arent technically illegal, not seeking permission from the landlord before subleasing is not permitted which of course means that the tentant did not receive permission before subletting rooms. How much weight does not seeking permission from landlord hold? Is subleasing rooms without the landlord's permission grounds for an eviction?The property manager then asked me for the lease agreement, which I handed over and he mentioned that he would hand it over to an attorney. What do I do in the meantime? Is there a chance that a suit can be filed against me for leaving the property or I would be held resposible for backrent by the landlord? I want to know before I start seeking another place to live.
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your follow-up, Gladys.

Ok. That answers part of it, but the property manager mentioned that while subleases arent technically illegal, not seeking permission from the landlord before subleasing is not permitted which of course means that the tentant did not receive permission before subletting rooms. How much weight does not seeking permission from landlord hold?
It would invalidate your lease because if the landlord is not honoring the agreement and is threatening to evict you, that is within his rights because he never permitted you on the premises and he can treat you as a trespasser or an occupant. It is also not your responsibility to seek permission, but the tenant's, and therefore he would be in breach when he entered into a contract with you that he really couldn't legally enter into.

Is subleasing rooms without the landlord's permission grounds for an eviction?
Yes.

The property manager then asked me for the lease agreement, which I handed over and he mentioned that he would hand it over to an attorney. What do I do in the meantime?
My apologies but that I cannot answer as I am not your attorney. I cannot tell you what to do as it would violate site rules.

Is there a chance that a suit can be filed against me for leaving the property or I would be held resposible for backrent by the landlord?
You cannot be sued by the landlord for back-rent since you are not in 'privity' with him, meaning you together were never in a contractual relationship. Should the tenant that you contracted with be stupid enough to sue you, as I mentioned above in my previous two answer you have a far stronger counter-suit against him which you will very likely prevail under.

Good luck and take care.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Do I need to give the tenant any days notice, i.e. 30 days notice, etc., before I move out or i can definitely move out immediately? Because rent is due in a weeks time.
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 5 years ago.
You do not need to give notice, but you may want to still provide a written letter stating that because of the fact this is an illegal lease, you are leaving due to the tenant's own breach and violation. Just in case she later claims you broke the lease without cause, you can point to that letter as evidence when you take her to court.

Good luck and take care.

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