Can I get my security deposit back if my apartment was not ready on my move-in date?

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Can I get my security deposit back if my apartment was not ready on my move-in date?

I signed a lease and 4 days prior to the move in date, I did a walkthrough. The water main was broken and the I was unable to move in on the contract date. The water was fixed and house became livable today. Is the contract still valid or did it become void when I was unable to move it? I cancelled my original check and reissued a security deposit check when I initially found out there was no water, telling the agent that I emailed that I wanted to move in when the water was fixed. During the course of water repairs, I found out from the person doing repairs that there are frequent water and power outages in the area. Can I still get my deposit back, now that the water is working?

Asked on January 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If the apartment is now move-in ready, then you would not be able to terminate the contract unless the delay in moving in was substantial or prolonged; if  it was only a few days or a week or two, but the home is now habitable, then a court would likely find that the delay was not sufficiently "material" to warrant terminating the lease (though you should not have to pay rent for the time it was uninhabitable). On the other hand, a delay of several weeks might well be enough to terminate the lease, and a delay exceeding a month almost certainly would (especially if you had to make other living arrangements in the meantime). Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule or bright line, about when a delay is long enough to justify termination.


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