If my sublandlord was not making rent payments, can I sue?

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If my sublandlord was not making rent payments, can I sue?

I was subleasing an apartment from someone I know and was in the apartment for about 4 to 5 months. In that time I received 2 eviction notices and later on received rent receipts noting that my sublandlord did not pay rent for 3 months. I decided to move out from the apartment after speaking with my sublandlord about this, who claimed he was paying rent but seemed upset that I had looked at the rent receipts. All in all, I paid him $5,200, including the deposit. Can I sue him for this amount? I also know that he was not allowed to sublease the apartment to me.

Asked on January 29, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you had a written lease or agreement with the sublandlord, you could sue for breach of the lease, if you had been forced to move out prior to the expiration of the lease. However, you describe a situation where you voluntarily moved out, so you would not have any recourse for the remaining balance of the lease term, unless you prepaid any rent for that time (see below).

You say that you paid $5,200 to the sublandlord; if that amount was the rent for the time you actually stayed in the apartment, you cannot get it back--that is, you paid for something you actually got (residing in the apartment). If you pre-paid any amounts for periods or months you were not able to stay there due to the sublandlord's actions, you may be able to sue for the recover of that amount.


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