What can we do if our apartment will not be ready by our move-in date?

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What can we do if our apartment will not be ready by our move-in date?

My husband and I applied and got approved for an apartment. We paid 2.5 months rent and the security deposit (totaling over $2000) and signed a lease for the apartment last month, with a move-in date of around the middle of this month. I sent an e-mail to just check in with the landlord yesterday and she responded saying the apartment may not be ready by our move-in date; she wouldn’t know the details until tomorrow. That is 9 days from our move-in date. We have obviously already been preparing for our move and have even put in our 30 days notice at our current apartment.

Asked on October 11, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the move in date (or at least the date you take possession of the apartment; e.g. lease start date) is in the lease or other agreement with the landlord, then it is enforceable. When there is a contract or lease between two parties, then the terms and conditions, including start dates, are binding, and if one party violates its obligations, the other party may then have a legal cause of action. Depending on the exact circumstances, what you may be entitled to could potentially vary from the costs of a hotel and storage for the extra 9 days to being allowed to terminate the lease and possibly get some additional expenses (like the difference in monthly rent, if you have to quickly rent a new place at a premium); probably the most likely compensation for a 9-day-delay would be the landlord picking up the hotel and storage costs for that time, but that is something to discuss with an attorney if you and the landlord can't work matters out. The important thing to rememember is, if it's in the lease, the landlord can't simply choose to ignore it.


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