Are we entitled to moving expenses if we had to eave due to code violations?

UPDATED: May 27, 2012

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Are we entitled to moving expenses if we had to eave due to code violations?

There was an electrical issue in the apartment building we were living in and code enforcement said that we had to evacuate until further notice (when the house was rewired). The landlord said it would probably only be a week and put us up in a hotel – 7 of us, including 2 who are 13, in 1 room). The first night, after everyone was settled into the hotel, the landlord informed us that insurance would not cover his expenses, so he sold the building to the bank. We were told we had to move within 7 days. Are we entitled to our security deposit or moving expenses from the landlord?

Asked on May 27, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Maine


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, of all, you do NOT have to move simply because the building was sold: when a building is sold, it is sold subject to all then-in-force leases. If the building was foreclosed on, that would be different: a foreclosure cuts off tenancy rights and terminates leases; however, a sale does not.

Second, if you are either legally evicted or "constructively evicted"--you cannot remain there because of safety, habitabilty, or legal issues--then you would have a good claim against the landlord for moving expenses and other costs from the move, and also should get your security deposit back: the landlord would be breaching the lease (by not providing you with the space you agreed to rent and are paying for) and/or violating the implied warranty of habitability (the obligation that all rental premises be "fit for their intended purposes"--e.g. for residence). If the landlord will not voluntarily pay, you'd have to sue, but would seem to have a good case.


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