If my landlord didn’t gave me the room that I was supposed to be renting, what can I do?

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If my landlord didn’t gave me the room that I was supposed to be renting, what can I do?

Landlord showed me the room the other day. Then I saw the same advertisement for a lower price and called them to make sure that it was the room I’ve seen which they confirmed. So I took it, signed the lease and right after they told me that the roommates changed the rooms and that I have another room now. There’s no window in the room (no daylight, no air) and it’s tiny. I told them that I don’t want to live there but they said that there’s nothing they can do. I already paid the rent for 1 month and the deposit. What can I do (the person living there doesn’t want to change room)?

Asked on April 20, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You should be able to either rescind or terminate the lease. If the lease indicates which room you were getting and that is not the room you were given, that would be a material breach or violation of the lease and entitle you to terminate it without penalty--including getting your deposit and month of rent back, since the landlord breached at the outset by not providing the room they had agreed to.

If the lease does not specifically indicate the room, if you were told it was room A and that was why you agreed to sign the lease, but it was really room B they were renting to you, then the landlord knowingly misrepresented (lied about) a material, or important, fact to get you to sign the lease. A knowing material misrepresentation is fraud; fraud would entitle you to rescind, or undo, the transaction, getting out of the lease and getting your money back.

You may be in trouble, though, if regardless of what was said before, the lease you signed clearly indicates you'd be getting the small windowless room--people are presumed to read contracts and leases before singing them, and so if you signed a lease for the small room, you could be held to it.

You might still have one out though, even if you signed a lease for this room--check with your municipality whether rentals have to be registered with the town or city. If they do, and this rental is not registered, then you may be able to get out of it because it is an illegal rental.


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