After signing a lease do I have a timeframe in which I can back out and get my security deposit refunded?

My roommate and I signed a lease a 3 days ago with a move-in date of 30 days after. Since then the landlord has not followed through with giving us the month to move in and the apartment is in worse shape then it was when we looked at it.

Asked on July 4, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Maine


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There is no period of time during you can rescind your lease once signed--once you sign it, it is a binding and enforceable contract.

However, if the apartment was not ready and available to you when it was supposed to be, that could be material, or important, breach of the lease, if either the landlord knew that the move-in date was critical to you, or in any event if the delay is much more than a few days or a week or so.

Also, if the apartment is in such bad shape as to not be liveable, that could be a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, or the requirement that rental premises be fit for their intended purpose (e.g. residence).  If the landlord does not correct this situation after notice and a chance to fix it, that can also provide grounds to terminate the lease and tenancy without penalty.

From what you write, if the delay is long enough or the apartment in bad enough shape, you may be able to get out of the lease. If in doubt, consult with a landlord-tenant attorney, who can evaluate the specifics of your situation and advise you as to your rights.

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