What is a tenant’s obligation if the unit they are renting is illegal?

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What is a tenant’s obligation if the unit they are renting is illegal?

We found our rent to be illegal. Also, the landlord gave us couches she had that she was throwing away. Now that we want to move do to water damage and unsafe living, she has been harassing us. She wants the furniture back, and she wants us to repaint the whole house which is in great condition. Can she get away with all this? What are our rights as a tenant? We always paid cash yet we have recites. we also have an unsigned lease.What should we do?

Asked on May 15, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Connecticut

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) Leases, including oral or verbal leases, are enforceable; the tenant does not have to do or pay anything more than what is included in the lease. (And unsigned lease mostl likely counts as an oral lease, with the unsigned draft helping to corrobarate or evidence the terms.) So unless the lease agreement--again, including an oral understanding--required you to repaint when you moved out, or unless you substantially damaged the exterior paint (which seems unlikely from what you write), you do not need to repaint.

2) Similarly, you don't need to give the couches back unless (1) the lease said you would; or (2) there was some other agreement indicating they were a loan, not a gift. Otherwise, once you are given them, you do not need to return them; gifts, once given, cannot be ungiven.


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