I live in an apartment I feel is illegal, if it is an illegal apartment would I be able to my money back?

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I live in an apartment I feel is illegal, if it is an illegal apartment would I be able to my money back?

I pay my landlord $800 in rent with utilities included, plus a deposit. This is my first apartment and I am in the military. I was told I would be able to have internet services and cable. The cable works fine and the internet did the first week I was there. I have sent him emails stating the internet no longer works. He has not replied. When I asked if I could have a ISP come and install internet for me he said no. I was also lead to believe the apartment had A/C, my lease states to keep in above 60 degrees. I later found out that the unit is for heat only. I feel as if I have been ripped off.

Asked on July 19, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Two different issues:

1) If the landlord has either breached the lease (not provided what the lease calls for  him to provide) or the landlord made misrepresentations (basically lies) to you in order to get you to rent the apartment, you might have a cause of action against him. If you did, you could recover damages, though, if you've been living there, probably not the  full amount you've paid, since by living there, you've received some value. The most likely measure of damages would be the difference in market rate rent or value between an apartment with the things you were promised and an apartment without them. So say that an apartment without internet and A/C is only worth $600 per month--you could possibly recover that $200/month "overpayment."

You could also possible do one of the following in addition: i) get out of the lease; ii) get an order forcing the landlord to provide what he promised.

2) If the apartment is illegal, that would possibly prevent the landlord from enforcing the lease against you, effectively letting you out of it. However, it would not necessarily require giving your money  back, and it might force you to get out and move whether you want to or not, or are ready to or not.

You should consult with an attorney with landlord-tenant experience to explore your options.


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