What to do if we have been in a lease/purchase for 6 month but have just found out that the dwelling cannot be legally occupied?

We recently found out that the home we are renting/purchasing has no certificate of occupancy, landlord did not obtain proper permits to have work done on the house (plumbing, deck, etc.) and it was a former meth lab, which he failed to tell us. The ceiling is cracking, walls are cracking. Building inspector came out and sent letter to landlord telling him of the violations and that they needed to be fixed and that the house can’t be lived in. What are our rights?

Asked on January 8, 2013 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You have a lease at this point. You should seek your security deposit back and force your landlord to pay for your move. If your landlord refuses, sue. Simply put, this is an uninhabitable dwelling and you need to be able to move without undue economic harm to you. If you would have no way of knowing the work done in the home was illegal or that it was a meth lab, then you should be entitled to your security back.

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