Can my landlord come after me for rent in an illegally zoned property?

UPDATED: Nov 7, 2010

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Can my landlord come after me for rent in an illegally zoned property?

The apartment I live in is commercially zoned. My landlord and many other people live in the 49 other units in the same building. It was verbally agreed to be a “fake business” on the lease. The city is sending officials to inspect the units, and the landlord is coming to take the stoves and mattresses. I want to move out before the 10th and not pay rent because he has my security deposit of 1 month’s rent. Will he try to come after me legally for the remaining rent? How can I get a new apartment without his reference? Should I give him a legal document stating my case?

Asked on November 7, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Connecticut


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking if your apartment is illegal then you are not liable for the rent.  The problem I have here is that you agreed to the fraudulent lease and to live there knowing that it was illegal.  It does not give your landlord the right to sue you because of it I am just making a point. As for the security deposit, that is generally for damages above the normal wear and tear to an apartment that tenant does.  Some states permit it to be used as the last month's rent and some do not.  I might call your local landlord tenant court to find out that answer here.  AS for the reference, I do not know what to tell you.  But I would, yes, advise the landlord that due to the fact that the apartment is not legal for residential tenants and that he is making it uninhabitable for same by removing the stoves and mattresses, you are vacating the premises on the 10th and agree to apply your security deposit as the final months rent. 

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