If we signed a lease and gave rent/deposit and rent without viewing the actual apartment, if it has roaches can we get our money back?

We discovered there were roaches before moving our furniture in. Can we break the lease and a refund seeing as we can’t move in now due to our children having asthma and the roaches inflamming it? We have tried bombing and spraying. We called an exterminator but the office told us that it would take 6 months to a year to even begin to get rid of the roaches.

Asked on November 27, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding apartment leases and roaches.  As with any kind of written contract, the terms of terminating the contract are often found within the contract itself.  In your case, the written contract would be your lease.  There may be a clause within your lease dealing with pest infestation.  Along with the terms of your lease, there is always a discrepancy as to why the roaches are there.  If you have not moved in at all and did not move any of your furniture in, then it will be easier to show that the roaches were there prior to you moving there.

You may also check your lease to see what you may have agreed to by giving a deposit and signing the lease.  If the terms state that you have accepted the conditions by signing the document, then you may have a couple extra hurdles. 

However, there is a phrase called, “constructed eviction” used in real estate law.  This occurs when the conditions are so bad in the rented space that you cannot live there, and it is treated as if the landlord evicted you.  In most states, in order to state that there was a constructed eviction you must have given notice to your landlord about the problem, allowed the landlord to fix the problem, and then make sure you have no property left in the rental space. 

If your landlord does not refund your money (given that you have checked your lease to see if it addresses this issue), then you may want to contact a real estate attorney in your area to further assist you.

 


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