If arental is not ready by the move-in date, can a tenant break the lease?

We signed a one year lease on a home which started on 10/01. But when I want to the house it was filthy dirty. I called the property manager who came over and took several pictures. She said that she would not move in it either. She contacted the owner who then said that the entire house would be cleaned by 10/02. The property manager said she would call me after inspecting the home but I did not hear from her. So I called 10/04 and she said it had already been cleaned and that we could have started moving in yesterday. We are now going to be out of town for the next 2 weekends, so I asked her to change the lease to 11/01 or to void the lease and give us our money back. Can I do this this since they broke the lease by not having the home ready for us to move in when we were suppossed to?

Asked on October 4, 2010 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You'd be on thin ice if you try to get out of the lease at this point. That's becausee they offered to reclean the premses and you accepted it; by accepting their offer of cleaning the place and having it ready 10/2, you waived their breach of the lease by not having the premises ready on 10/1. You may have had grounds to termiante the lease when the premises was not ready for you move in (though not definitely; the appropriate remedy might have been the extra day or two to clean, plus you get some monetary compensation, such a 1 - 2 days less rent, the cost of staying in a hotel, etc.). However, again, when you agreed to give them more time to clean, you waived that breach as possible ground to terminate the lease.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.