What are the tenant’s rights if a landlord doesn’t finish renovation of the premises within the timeframe listed in the lease?

My roommate and I signed a lease for 06/01 but didn’t move in until mid-August (we’re students). The landlord was supposed to have the renovation of the premises done by 06/01 but we found out later he didn’t have it done until early Aug. He says that he had a verbal agreement with my roommate that she said it was okay if they were to push the ready-by date to our move-in date but she denies it. I was never told about this change so when I tried to move in some things mid-July I couldn’t; Ihad to wait a month. We paid full rent for June and July. Are we entitled to rent back for these 2 months?

Asked on September 11, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A lease is a legally binding contract and generally can not be changed verbally.  So any "agreement" that the landlord wanted to move the date as listed in the lease should have been done in writing.  And you should have been given "consideration" for the change in the agreement, generally speaking an "abatement" or reduction in the rent for the 2 months that you paid while the premises were completed.  If you choose to you can indeed press the issue and I believe that you will be successful.  I would, however, do so cautiously as you have to deal with the landlord for the next 10 or so months.  Do not ignore your rights but assets them sugar covered.  Good luck.


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