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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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I signed a lease that starts two months later. There are tenants

Customer Question

I signed a lease that starts two months later. There are tenants at the house so 2 days after signing the lease, I realized that the house had a moist smell. I also realized that the house is not exactly the same square footage as the landlord advertised. I want to get out of the contract. Is it a possibility? The move in date is on July 01, 2015.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.
Dear Customer, thank you for using our service. I would like to assist you today. Responses may have a short delay for review and research.
Unfortunately, by signing the lease, you did form a binding contract. You can try to exit the lease by claiming that the landlord misrepresented the property, but you need to be able to show a "material" breach by the landlord (so a "moist" smell that may be remedied after the current tenants vacate, or a negligible difference in square feet between the advertised and actual space, is not going to be sufficient to terminate the lease agreement).
If you can show that the landlord has breached the agreement (there is a significant ("material") misrepresentation in what the landlord advertised (for example, advertised "washer and drier hookups" but there are none), or after the existing tenants vacate and the unit is left uninhabitable, that would be a basis to terminate the lease. But you cannot simply unilaterally walk away from the contract.
You can sue the landlord for breach of contract and (if they made a false statement of material fact in advertising the unit) "fraud in the inducement" and ask to void the lease. 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.
Whatever you end up doing, I would highly advise you to get a formal agreement before you terminate this agreement, failure to do so will end in the landlord filing suit against you, and making it much harder for you to lease another unit in the future (even if you win), so make sure you reach a resolution with your landlord in some fashion (negotiated, mediated, or litigated).