Can a landlord end cancel your lease before you move in?

Asked by ., Madison, WI Sun Jun 6, 2010

I had a lease beginning today for a duplex. The landlords emailed me today saying things will not work out for renting and they will return my security deposit. Is this legal

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Don Tepper’s answer
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Sun Jun 6, 2010

I share Bill's skepticism. I answered some of your previous questions about your buying a home and not having a satisfactory home inspection. Now you have a lease?

I'm not a lawyer, so what follows is not legal advice.

However . . .

You say you had a lease. In fact you say it twice. That means a document signed by all appropriate parties. So--if you had a lease, it's enforceable on both parties. The landlord would need a legitimate reason--one specified in the lease such as your having provided incorrect information--to void a lease. Or, if the lease were contingent on a satisfactory background or credit check and yours was not satisfactory, then the lease would be void.

So, you have to read the terms of your lease and understand why the landlord was cancelling your lease.

You ask what damages you might be able to recover. Well, let's say you have to spend a week in a motel while you find another lease, the extra cost of staying in a motel could constitute damages. Basically--and again this is not legal advice--expenses you incurred as a direct result of the actions of the landlord could be defined as damages.

Hope that helps.
2 votes
John Mondello, Agent, Prairieville, LA
Thu Jun 10, 2010
Don is correct. A lease is a binding contract, no different than a purchase agreement. Having said that, the landlord may be held liable for failure to deliver possession of property. I would speak to an attorney.

John J Mondello Jr, Realtor
Keller Williams
(225) 329-8119
"I find the house, you make it home."
1 vote
Bill E, Home Owner, Madison, WI
Sun Jun 6, 2010
Just to make sure I have this straight: You have a home that you are selling, closing on the 22nd.
You were going to buy the house with the inspection problems and close on the 22nd.
You applied for the lease after things went bad on the house purchase and now don't have anyplace to stay...but you have over 2 weeks to find a place. So, not really homeless but inconvenienced.

This is a forum for advice. I gave it: Tenant Resource Center. Assuming that you have an actual lease signed by you and the Landlord. They give free legal advice, 2nd and 3rd year law students, very tenant-oriented. I am not sure you recognize good advice when it is presented.

Never pretended to be an you so rudely stated.
1 vote
., , Madison, WI
Sun Jun 6, 2010
Bill E-I will not respond to your posts. Don't bother writing on mine.
1 vote
Christine Mo…, Agent, Wilbraham, MA
Sun Jun 6, 2010
Depends on your contract. Contact a lawyer for a free consultation you might be able to get damages.
1 vote
John, , Madison, WI
Wed Jun 9, 2010
Let's look at it from the LL's point: Until you take possesion of the unit (keys), you can back out and no judge would enforce that LL's lease against you . Therefore, I'd think the opposite would be true, as well. Under different circumstances, often times a current resident doesn't vacate on time and there's no way to "make them move" other than via empty threats or some monetary financial penalty in their lease.
0 votes
., , Madison, WI
Sun Jun 6, 2010
The lease started today (the unit was empty and the owner didn't want to let it sit until June 22nd). I was to begin moving some of my things today and the rest before my current home closes on June 22nd. Essentially, I'm paying for a lease and a mortgage for a few weeks this month. It is not unsual to have overlap in between renting and closing on a home. So, it's not "strange" as you rudely suggested.

I am not attorney, nor are you, so and the purpose of this site is to ask questions and get advice from helpful professionals. Most people aren't aware of the legalities of contracts and the consequences!

Bill, please stop responding to my posts. You aren't helpful and are condescending. Many of us have been through this with you before.
0 votes
Bill E, Home Owner, Madison, WI
Sun Jun 6, 2010
Don't overlook the sound advice given: Tenant Resource Center and/or attorney.

You have come here looking for advice on contracts before when you were confused, a pattern is developing.

Funny how you were supposed to close on June 22 on the new house but are suddenly homeless on June 6th. So strange...
0 votes
bill you are very rude! extremely judgemental and a poor excuse for a human.. which we all are
Flag Sun Sep 18, 2016
., , Madison, WI
Sun Jun 6, 2010
Don, I was able to walk away from the home purchase. Since the home cancellation, I found a lease. I have already sold my house and needed a place to rent. I was suppose to begin moving in today and the owners sent an email saying they aren't renting it. They already did a background check and employment check which all checked out fine. They have a security depost and June rent.
0 votes
Bill E, Home Owner, Madison, WI
Sun Jun 6, 2010
Good Afternoon~

Did you sign a lease? Do you have a copy? You should contact the Tenant Resource Center.

1202 Williamson Street
Madison, WI 53703-4830
(608) 257-0006

Is this for real? It was just a day or two ago you were inspecting a house and the deal fell through. How is it possible that you were going to close on that house in time to move in and simultaneously you were applying for a duplex to move in to today?

The timeline seems a little fishy.
0 votes
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