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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 37854
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I have a tenant moving in to a new construction building that

Customer Question

I have a tenant moving in to a new construction building that has a delayed CofO. As the agent for the landlord, am I liable?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can..Does the tenant have a fixed term lease with a specific start date?.Did you rent the property at the direction of the landlord/owner?..thanksBarrister
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes, the lease starts tomorrow. I was told by the developer that the "drop dead ready" date was 7/24. My Property Management Contract with the Developer DOES state that I require the CofO within 3 business days (which has now passed) or the agreement is null and void. Lastly, what TYPE of liability are we talking about?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am being led on on a day by day basis about the CofO. I am confident the property is SOUND, but am worried about potential repercussions...
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 years ago.
Ok, if you signed a lease on behalf of the landlord/owner and they are unable to deliver possession of the property to the tenant, then that is a breach of contract and the tenant could hold the landlord liable for any damages that they incur due to the breach. So if they incurred storage costs or if this was a residential tenancy and they had to stay at a hotel, then the landlord is legally liable for this..If you were acting at the direction of the landlord, then you don't bear any personal liability because under the doctrine of "respondeat superior", the principle is liable for the actions of his agent..So based on your comments, it sounds like the tenant only has a recourse against the landlord/owner...thanksBarrister
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My question is more, can/should I let them in prior to the CofO being issued? And if so, THEN is the landlord liable if something were to occur at that point?
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 years ago.
I can't tell you what you should do, but that is generally not a good idea unless you are completely certain that everything is done, it just hasn't been checked off yet, and there is no chance the COA will be denied once the inspector comes around. However there could be an issue with the inspector if you allow someone to take occupancy prior to the COA being issued with some type of fine or penalty.. .But if you do so without the landlord's direction to do so, then you could incur personal liability from the landlord if something goes wrong, the tenant has to move out, and then sued the landlord. The landlord could then sue you personally since you let them move in on your own without his approval...thanksBarrister
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Okay, great. Thank you!
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 years ago.
You are very welcome. Glad to help any time. So just to be clear, if you are going to let them move in, make sure you get the OK from the owner/landlord so you are protected from being in the liability chain...If you feel your original question and any related follow ups have been answered, I would very much appreciate a positive rating on the answer I have provided so I receive credit for my work. If you have a new question the JustAnswer folks require that you start a new question page, but you can request me by putting "For Barrister" in the caption and they will get it to me.. thanks muchBarrister
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My problem is, the owner is out of town at the moment, but has acknowledged the move-in date in advance, with the EXPECTATION he would get CofO prior to the resident move-in.
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 years ago.
Ok, then if he has directed you to deliver possession, then it is up to him to ensure that he has complied with all applicable laws and ordinances so that the COA is granted so he can legally deliver possession without any potential negative repercussions..You would just be doing what you have been directed to do by your principle...thanksBarrister