Can the landlord change a rental agreement in the middle of the year?

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Can the landlord change a rental agreement in the middle of the year?

When I came to look at the apartment, I was told that the rent was $800 but when I got ready to move in they raised it to $850. At the time I signed the lease, it didnt and still doesn’t say anything about a late fee. However, the first time I was one day late paying the rent I had to pay a fee. Then they went up on the late fee in the middle of the year. I also had items damaged from mold and they are saying its not mold and just spray bleach on it. Also, we have never met the landlord just the caretakers and we heard from a previous tenat that the landlord is dead. What can I do?

Asked on May 30, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) If you have a written lease agreement, it may *not* be changed during its term, unless and only to the extent that there is something in the agreement itself specifically giving the landlord the right to make changes.

2) You only have to pay such charges and fees as you agreed to in lease. A lease is a contract; neither party to a contract may unilaterally change the contract or add fees or costs to the other party. If the landlord has forced you to pay amounts not in the lease, you could sue to recover them.

3) All leases have what's known as an "implied warranty of habitability" added to them. This is the obligation that the rental premises be fit for their intended purpose--in this case, residence. If there is a significant mold condition, one that possibly posses health concerns, the landlord must take care of it once you have provided notice of it. If the landlord does not remedy the problem after notice, you may be entitled to monetary compensation, or to pay to fix the condition and deduct the cost from the rent, or to obtain a court order directing the landlord to remediate the condition, or even to terminate the lease without penalty. The exact remedy will depend on the circumstances and your wishes.

4) If the landlord was negligent, or careless or lazy about obligations, in some way, and that negligence caused damage to your belongings, you could hold the landlord liable for the cost to repair or replace. So if the landlord has not corrected mold after you told him about it, or allowed  leaks which caused mold, and thereby damaged your items, the landlord is potentially liable.

5) It doesn not really matter if  you have met the landlord as long as you know and have contact with his agents, managers, caretakers, etc. Those persons are his agents; they have to act on his behalf, and have to also communicate concerns and conditions to him.

If  you can't get any favorable response from the caretakers, consider retaining a landlord-tenant attorney to take action on your behalf, to prevent the landlord from charging you illegal fees, to get the return of anything you paid which you shouldn't have, to get the mold condition abated, and to seek compensation for any damaged goods.


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