If there was a natural disaster and I was forced to move out of my rental 21 days proior to the end of my lease, can my landlord keep the full month’s rent?

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If there was a natural disaster and I was forced to move out of my rental 21 days proior to the end of my lease, can my landlord keep the full month’s rent?

Is landlord required to pay this back to me. He is refusing.

Asked on June 15, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Leases may be terminated without penalty due to "impossibility"--when events beyond either parties' control makes it impossible to rent the space. If the space where rendered uninhabitable due to a natural disaster (or you were ordered out of the space by government order), then you should not have to pay for the time you were unable to access or use the premises. From what you write, the landlord should have to return to you the rent for the time period after the disaster but before  the expiration of your lease; if he does not, you could sue him (such as in small claims court, where you could act as your own attorney) to recover the money.


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