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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 27621
Experience:  JA Mentor
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My apartment also known as the cottage was built in the

Customer Question

my apartment also known as the cottage was built in the eighteen hundreds I have been challenged for many months for the landlord to help me for example my basement is was flooded I had to move into a hotel for 3 days because I could not use the bathroom I physically injured myself while trying to throw out basically everything from my basement although they say it's fixed I still have bugs worms spiders Exedra still coming into the house I have fumigated it I've been cleanly and tired itI also paid for all the cleaning products to try to salvage? Their property I'm not getting reimbursed for any of them cleaning supplies and material exedra and they refuse to pay for my dry cleaning slash wash of anything that was salvageable I have fumigated twice they want me to stay till September just to get my security back also as mentioned I'm an American with a disability I appreciate any help at all because of my family is literally trying to force me to stay in hotel vs. moving into an ASAP Hotel example Extended Stay which overall will save everyone money the condition of the house could be rented ASAP because I've cleaned it as best as I can I have arranged a furniture removal clean-out company for next week basically giving everything else away or putting on Craigslist I suffer severe anxiety I have videos I have phone text is which even started prior to July 1st I believe under tenantlaw if some place is deemed inhabitable I am going to move out and I believe I still will get back my deposit please note I'm using the talk to text function on my phone so I hope this is legible thank you in advance Stephanie 908 656 0 156i
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
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Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Hi Stephanie,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

All residential leases contain an implied warranty of habitability. If the landlord is not taking steps to fix the infestation, then a tenant has a right to call the housing department and report the violation. The landlord will be required to fix the problem. However, it sounds like you already fixed the problem on your own - which means you wouldn't have a right to cancel the lease and move. (I'm basing this on you saying that the property could be rented to someone else ASAP - that wouldn't be the case if it were uninhabitable). Here is more information on the warranty of habitability and what the tenant has to do before they can invoke it - I'm happy to answer any questions you have, but I think giving you the whole document is a helpful place to start.

http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/codes/publications/pdf_lti/habitablity.pdf

You should be aware that, because the landlord promises you a place to live in exchange for you paying rent, you can sue for what you spent on that hotel. That's not a cost a tenant is supposed to bear when a rental property floods. You can also ask for a prorated rent refund for any time that the house was unlivable. Adding up the total days you had problems and coming up with a bill for the landlord may help you negotiate a resolution where they agree to let you out of the lease (and return your deposit) in exchange for you not suing them.

You mentioned that you have a disability. You have a right to submit a written request to the landlord under the Fair Housing Act, requesting a "reasonable accommodation" to do what is necessary to make the house usable for you. That's what the law says. But a tenant requesting a FHA accommodation can be required to pay for it themselves, so that may not help you. The landlord usually doesn't have to eat the cost if a tenant breaks a lease under the FHA (But I want you to know that it's an option in case there are other ways to make the place livable for the rest of the summer).

The other option for you is to find a new tenant on your own and sublet. If you find someone else who is ready, willing, and able to take over the lease when you move out, the landlord has lost no rent and cannot keep your security deposit for breaking the lease. They could only keep it if you damaged the premises, and it sounds like that is not the case at all.

One last thing: call the city and verify whether this property has a certificate of occupancy. If it doesn't, it is illegal for the landlord to rent it out, and that means they could not keep your deposit for unpaid rent if you broke the lease and moved. It's possible they're not even supposed to be renting it.

If you have any questions or concerns about my response, please reply WITHOUT RATING. It's important that you are 100% satisfied with my courtesy and professionalism. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so I am paid for the time I spend answering questions. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to scroll to the right. There is no charge for follow-up questions. Thank you.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

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