Can I get out of a lease is if the unit was not ready by the move-in date?

My husband and I signed a 1 year lease to start on the first of this month but since the place was not quite done we said that we would be moving in on the weekend.Saturday morning came and the place still wasn’t done. We went buy yesterday and it’s still a mess – tools, trash, construction materials, the kitchen counter top half done and no kitchen sink. Can we get out money back or have them prorate the month’s rent? I know it was stupid to sign and give payment but she said if we didn’t sign by the 1st she was renting it to someone else. She is also the mother of a friend so I trusted her.

Asked on November 11, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the lease indicated the place would be ready bya certain date and it was not, you are certainly entitled to something. If the delay is "material"--i.e. a significant one, given either how long it is in an absolute sense, or given your own circumstances (e.g. you have nowhere to live), it may give you the right to terminate the lease and get your deposit back. If the delay is not material--it's a few days and you have somewhere to live; or you can live there, albeit with inconvenience (i.e. it's not uninhabitable or unsafe) while the work is finished, it would entitled you to a rent abatement, or reduction in rent, for the time it's not fully available to you.

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