If my rental is illegal, do I owe back rent?

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If my rental is illegal, do I owe back rent?

I rent a room in a home with no lease agreement although I have never met my landlord. She has none of my information, not even my last name. I have lived in the house for almost a year and about a week ago a home inspector came by. he said there hadn’t been an updated renters license for 9 months and that the room I had been living in was not a legal bedroom. My landlord stopped by yesterday and I met her for the first time. She demanded rent tomorrow, including back rent. Is this legal?

Asked on April 25, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You need to seek help here from either an attorney or a tenant's rights group.  In somes states - such as New York - a landlord can recover for rent of an illegal apartment as long as the dwelling was not a multiple dwelling (3 or more familes).  So the status of your house may matter here.  You could wait until she sues you for the rent or tries to evict you but that is a risk only you can decide to take.  Good luck.


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