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Question DetailsAsked on 2/25/2018

i rent from a women in Lutz who herself built a apartment in her house no permitt or zoning ok is that fraud/

Can I sue her for my rent back?

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1 Answer


I'm no lawyer, but I would suspect advertising an illegal apartment for rent and signing a rental or lease agreement on it probably would be at least a form of civil fraud and possibly subject her to fines at least - maybe or maybenot criminal fraud charges. Though I am not sure what compensation you could ask for UNLESS you are being thrown out of it at this time because the city is shutting her down.

If you knew it was illegal at the time of renting I am pretty sure you would lose. If you learned of it not being legal along the way you could probably void the contract.

Of course, check with local government housing control authority if there is one (like in NYC) or Planning and Zoning department otherwise, about whether apartments like this have to be licensed/zoned. Probably makes a difference whether it is advertised/rented as an "apartment" with cooking facilities and such, or just a "room". Bear in mind if talking to them about a specific address that raises a red flag with them and could end up in your being kicked out with little or no notice if they shut her down.

You can certainly sue to get your rent back - you can sue about almost anything these days. I can't imagine you will win on back rent because you rented an apartment you lived in and evidently served your purpose during that time (unless it does not meet housing codes for apartments, maybe) - I would think the most you would win on would be allowing you to cancel any contract before its natural expiration date. And whether you would win on legal expenses - I would not count on that - hard to show you suffered past damages in a case like this unless it was grossly unsuitable for renting (moldy, dangerous, did not have legal cookingor sanitary facilities, no hot water or heat, etc)

Note also if you make an issue of this, her "apartment" might be shut down with very little warning for you to move out, though that could also happen at any time if the city finds out about it otherwise too. So I would tread carefully, probably have a preliminary talk with an attorney specializing in rent/housing issues (or Legal Aid Society if you are on public aid or such), and not jump until you are prepared to move to a new place.

That in itself could be a tough situation - because you do not want to commit to a new lease before you are sure this one can be cancelled before its expiration date, but cancel this one andthe cancellation probably would have to be almost immediate (a week or two) so if in a tight rent area like NYC, could be tough to get into a new place by move out date. You might be able to win something for temporary living costs in that case - but generally, if you take legal action, you may well be out of the place long before the case is finally adjudicated and probably long before you recover any money.

Your attorney can also advise on any local laws, assuming you can prove the apartment is not legal, allowing you to stay in it without paying your rent until you are rerasonably able to get a new place. some larger cities, especially on east coast, have such laws - commonly tied to the same regulations and laws which deal with subsidized and rent-controlled apartments.

In deciding hgow to approach this, you might also want to take into account the landldy herself - is this some very nice impoverished grandmother barely keeping afloat by renting parts of her house out, or a greedy slumlord type. In the former case getting her to amend the contract for an earlier termination date without penalty, once you get new lodgings, might be your choice. In the lattear, you might be more tempted to throw the regulatory book at her.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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