CanI charge my landlord with theft by deception or larceny if he didn’t pay his mortgage?

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CanI charge my landlord with theft by deception or larceny if he didn’t pay his mortgage?

He took my rent and never payed his mortage even though he signed a contract saying that he would.

Asked on April 18, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New Hampshire

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No...even though it seems like it would be fair to do so, you very likely have no grounds at all to do this. Even if he signed a contract that he would pay his mortgage, it is very likely that you can show that he had fraudulent criminal intent at the time he signed (which would generally be necessary to make out a criminal case); also, since you had an obligation to pay your rent regardless (or  you could be evicted), it's unclear if there would be criminal liability based on what he subsequently did with the money.

However, if there was a signed contract re: paying the mortgage and the landlord did not do so, you may be able to bring a civil action against him, either to force him to pay, or to recover damages or compensation from his breach. You may wish to bring that contract, your lease, and any rent receipts to an attorney who can then evaluate the strength and value of your potential civil case.


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