Is it legal to have to pay rent for an apartment/townhome that the leasing company will not allow me to move back into?

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Is it legal to have to pay rent for an apartment/townhome that the leasing company will not allow me to move back into?

I pay rent on an apartment I leased and had to vacate the premises for a job relocation. The job fell through. I wanted back in on the apartment I’m paying for until June they wouldn’t let me unless I signed a new lease with higher rent gave a new deposit and reapplied. I felt harassed by this. I don’t even think it is legal to pay for a home and not be allowed to rent it. I brought a friend in to the leasing office to rent the place yesterday. They were so rude to her to the point of tears she decided not to rent from them. I think this is a Landlord Harassment case. I’m intimidated by them.

Asked on December 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) There is no such thing as "landlord harassment" as a general matter, though if you feel the landlord is harassing you or your friend on the basis of race or disability, there may be a legal claim.

2) If  had a written lease and were still paying for the apartment pursuant to the lease, it doesn't matter whether or not you were residing there--as long as you were paying rent, it is your premises.

However, if you told the landlord you were moving out and they allowed you to pay less than the full amount still due under the lease, then you gave up possession and they could refuse you entry unless your re-leased. For example, you say you were paying for "until June." If that was the end of your term and you're paying through the end, it should still be your apartment. On the other hand, if the lease would have run through, say, September or October, so that you should  have paid until then (and the landlord could legally make you pay until then), but  instead the landlord allowed you to vacate and only pay a portion of the rent due, in that event, you would have given up possession.

If you believe you are still entitled to possession, you should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney who can help you vindicate your rights.


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