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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10213
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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Good evening, We resigned a 12 month lease in late January

Customer Question

Good evening,
We resigned a 12 month lease in late January that took effect March 1st 2016. On March 5th, 2016 the landlord notified us of their intent to sell the property. Her exact words "over the last month we have to make some tough decisions and we decided to place the property on the market". Yes just 4 days into the new lease. 1 year ago when we signed the first 12 month lease I verbally asked her would she sell the property over the next 2 years? We had been in two other rental homes that went on the market. She assured me they were not going to sell the property.
My response to her was that once the home went on the market we would be looking for alternate housing for our family. On April 29th I offered her a 60 day notice (us being out after 30 days but paying for 60). Plus that she could keep our security dep (we haven't damaged a thing). She declined. She stated we would be help responsible for the remainder of the rent. I never received a signed excited copy of the lease either year.
There is a list of repairs that need done including Windows that don't close all the way, broken window locks, mold in AC intake, ceiling has buckled about 8-10 inch opening in the kitchen. She said that was from the AC and didn't fix it. Lots of other items need repaired. We paid May's rent in good faith however we can't continue to live in these conditions. They also and I pointed out the dates that realtors have shown the home without communicating the showings to us. Any advice. We need to be out of this lease asap.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
We live in Florida. I feel like we were completely tricked into signing the lease and they did not disclose their intention to sell. They clearly knew before 3/1 and could have easily voided the 12 month lease. The repairs letter is going out to them later this month (7 days prior to when the rent is due with our intentions to vacate). Mold in the AC intake from a leak that took them 6 weeks to fix. Windows that don't lock, one doesn't shut all the way, ceiling falling in above kitchen counter (water leaks from there onto counter) are 2 serious things. Again I am looking for ideas and/or a breach of their part. Not to mention ethically tricking us into signing a 12 month lease knowing their intent is wrong.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 5 months ago.
Dear Customer,I am very sorry to learn of this situation. Unfortunately a landlord does not have an obligation to notify a tenant of their potential sale of the home, or of their changed circumstances leading to a sale.You do have a potential point of leverage here in that you had a verbal discussion with the landlord regarding this issue prior to signing the original lease - but be aware, while it is a perfectly legitimate legal argument, I would not suggest relying on this as a complete defense to a breach of contract/early lease termination claim.With the above understanding, you still have recourse.You can still terminate the lease early - if you do so you are responsible for rent until (1) the end of the lease term or (2) the landlord finds a new tenant (the landlord must make "reasonable efforts" to find a new tenant - including advertising the unit, and not rejecting reasonably qualified applicants). You still have a right to have the landlord make repairs to the unit. If the landlord fails to make repairs within a reasonable period of time you can sue the landlord in small claims court and get a judgment for "specific performance" requiring the landlord to repair the damage, as well as a money judgment against the landlord to compensate you for the diminished value of the unit.The same applies for your landlord's real estate agents repeated violations of the notice requirements for showing the unit.Short of filing a lawsuit, you can try to mediate the dispute with them - contact your local bar association and request referrals to mediators, a third party neutral can often help you reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Use the bar association's referrals to contact a mediator or two, the mediator will then contact the other party to set up a mediation session, and you can go from there - hopefully resulting in a formal or written settlement agreement, and save yourself the time and expense of litigation.Mediation would probably be a good option here and a good mediator is probably going to help you find a way to negotiate a lease termination with this landlord.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Can we terminate the lease if the repairs are not addressed? Thank you so much for all of the other helpful information!
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 5 months ago.
Probably not for the issues you identified. The types of repairs that allow you to terminate a lease involve "habitability" issues - so very significant defects such as no water, no hot water, holes in the exterior envelope (doors, roof, windows, walls, etc.), infestation.But I still believe that mediation is going to get you to a point where you can probably reach a lease termination.

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