What can I do if I’m a first time small business owner and my landlord lied about the cost of utilities?

My landlord lied about the utilities available at the building and now is making responsible for paying half of the central air for the whole building, knowing that I am only there for appointments 3 days per month. He told me there was no central air and that the vents in the unit were to be kept covered until winter because the heat would escape but that the window ac unit worked great for the previous tenant. The central ac is in the retail shop downstairs who’s building is 2x the size of mine. My utility bills were withheld for 3 months and I am just now finding out about central ac. Is this legal?

Asked on August 31, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

This may be fraud. Fraud is when someone else makes a material, or important, misrepresentation of fact, which he does to induce, or cause, you to do something or enter into some transaction, on which mistatement you rely and on which it was reasonable to rely no obvious reasons not to rely on it. If your landlord lied about the AC and utilities cost, he may have committed fraud if so, you may have grounds to recoer compensation such as the utilities cost from him, though you would have to sue him to get the money if he will not voluntarily pay it. You need to weigh whether the cost and inconvenience/distraction of a lawsuit, plus the damage to the landlord-tenant relationship, is worth the amount of money you hope to recover.


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