What ot do if my landlord denied me access to my apartment for 2 weeks after the move-in date stated in my lease?

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What ot do if my landlord denied me access to my apartment for 2 weeks after the move-in date stated in my lease?

I had already paid him for those dates. He refuses to return my money, called me names, and harassed me via email. I have all official documents plus all email correspondence with him saved. Turns out he is in not even the actual owner of the property. His son’s corporation owns the building, and I paid rent to the corporation. What do I do? Who do I sue? He is responsible, right? He broke our lease by not allowing me possession of the apartment. He is calling me a liar and telling me it is my fault Do I handle this is small claims court or is this a good enough case to higher a lawyer and pursue in higher court?

Asked on December 4, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Yes, if he breached the terms of the lease, you could sue him for monetary compenation; you may may also be able to sue him on the basis of fraud or even theft, if he lied about having the authority to rent to you or diverted your rent money to himself. You might also be able to sue the son's corporation, if it did give him the authority to act--in that case, it would likely be liable for his actions as its employee or agent. (In this case, you would sue both him and the son's corporaton.)

Whether to sue in small claims court or in a different court, and whether you should hire an attorney or not, depends on how much money is at stake. You can recover the pro rata rent for the two weeks, plus any additional costs (e.g. motel, if you had to stay somewhere else; storage for your goods/belongings, etc.). If that amount is under the small claims court limit, you may want to sue in small claims and act as your own attorney. If it's over the limit, you should probably hire a lawyer.


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