Join 3,500 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


What if my landlord isn't allowed to rent to me?
July 3, 2011 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Friend signed a July 1 lease on a condo. Found out today that the owner is prohibited by the condo association from renting to her. Movers are scheduled for July 7. Now what?

My friend stopped by her new place to take a look around a few days before the movers were scheduled. It's a condo, and the door code that she had gotten from the landlord didn't work as expected. She called the phone number on the front door, and ended up talking to a member of the condo association who was furious to find out that she was a new rental tenant, because rentals are prohibited.

After she had gotten into the apartment, she called up the landlord to see what was going on, and he told her that he apparently had missed the latest update to the condo bylaws. He asked if she was willing to push back her move date from the 7th to the 15th so he could have some time to smooth things over with the condo folks.

Clearly, this is not good because there's no guarantee that if she does reschedule, they'll be any more likely to allow renters by then, not to mention the massive inconvenience of canceling vacation, extending the current lease, etc.

She currently has access to the property and a signed one year lease that says she's a tenant.

What should my friend do next? Can the landlord or condo association now prevent her from moving in? Or since the lease has already begun would this amount to an eviction? Does the landlord's professed ignorance of the condo bylaws amount to operating in bad faith?

This is in Alabama, by the way.
posted by ubermuffin to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
 
It would help to know the jurisdiction.
posted by dfriedman at 9:22 PM on July 3, 2011


Birmingham.
posted by ubermuffin at 9:31 PM on July 3, 2011


Does she really want to be the tenant of someone who isn't even on the ball enough to realize they're not allowed to rent their unit?

How's the rental market in her area? Any chance of finding something else similar nearby by the 7th?
posted by jacquilynne at 9:38 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


She may have some legal rights. Maybe she could move in anyway, and fight the landlord, and fight the condo association, and maybe it'll all work out in the end. But does she really want that? Is this place so extraordinary to be worth such a hassle? Is the housing market so tight there that she can't find another space? Because if it was me, I'd walk away and find another spot.

Of course, if she's made any sort of deposit, the landlord needs to give it back ASAP.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:39 PM on July 3, 2011


It sounds like she has a legal title to the property but not physical title. She also has grounds for breaching this contract due to false misrepresentation of the facts. Does she still even want to move in at this point?
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 10:10 PM on July 3, 2011


Lawyer. Lawyer, lawyer, lawyer, lawyer, lawyer.

She has incurred expenses, and may be due recompense. Advise that she seek the council of an attorney.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:11 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does she really want to be the tenant of someone who isn't even on the ball enough to realize they're not allowed to rent their unit?

He probably did know, and just didn't think she'd tell the landlord about the arrangement. I have a hard time believing he just plain didn't know at all.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:15 PM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


What should my friend do next?

She should find somewhere else to live. That will be the quickest and easiest solution. The alternative is spending time and money fighting it and possibly ending up moving somewhere else anyway.
posted by Justinian at 10:21 PM on July 3, 2011


Yeah, actually - -she just needs to call a lawyer. This is a situation they would make a hypothetical about in Property 101.
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 10:27 PM on July 3, 2011


Well, given that tomorrow is the 4th of July holiday, the possibility of finding another nice apartment ready for a move-in date of the 7th seems kind of remote. It sounds like her current landlord is an understanding guy, so she can probably get him to extend her stay at the current apartment a little bit longer. She's calling him in the morning.

Lawyering up sounds like a very good idea, she'll check with coworkers on Tuesday to see if they have any recommendations.

This is actually the second apartment my friend tried to move into this summer, after the rental agent on the first one weaseled out just before the signed lease was returned. She'd been hoping to move in early June.

So yeah, while walking away from this apartment might be the best bet, it means going back for round 3 of apartment hunting, which is pretty craptacular too.
posted by ubermuffin at 10:47 PM on July 3, 2011


he apparently had missed the latest update to the condo bylaws

I don't believe this at all. Any changes to the rental policy in the condo building would be a very big deal (almost certainly requiring a supermajority vote of the owners and not just a Board of Directors decision).

Your friend is lucky she found out before moving in. Tempers can run hot over this issue and it is really awful of this prospective landlord to try to put your friend in a situation where her neighbors would be angry with her for violating this rule.

Trying to rent out his unit is an asshole move, where everyone loses except the landlord. I seriously doubt that he will be able to "smooth things over."

What should my friend do next?
Find a different place to live. And possibly seek compensation from the landlord--that seems reasonable to me, but I'm not a lawyer.

Can the landlord or condo association now prevent her from moving in?
Where I work, we would just levy stupendous punitive fines on the owner, but do nothing to the renter.

Or since the lease has already begun would this amount to an eviction? Does the landlord's professed ignorance of the condo bylaws amount to operating in bad faith?
I have no idea.

One thing that may be worth noting is that while renters are prohibited, there's probably no policy on guests, and it's awfully hard to tell the difference. I would not recommend being a "guest" for a full year, but one possible compromise may be to have the landlord let your friend stay there free of charge for a short period of time while she finds a new place (and in exchange, she wouldn't sue him). That still leaves all her furniture in limbo and it still kinda sucks, but... hey, just throwing it out there. Could well be better to just sue him. Personally, I wouldn't trust him at all after this.
posted by kprincehouse at 11:54 PM on July 3, 2011


"he told her that he apparently had missed the latest update to the condo bylaws"
No way he missed that. It's highly unlikely that a bylaw that significant was passed without making it extremely well known to the owners. This is a skeevy would be landlord and a skeevy rental situation. She would do best to find another place to live.
posted by SLC Mom at 12:03 AM on July 4, 2011


I'd be very leery of staying in the place at all. Whether or not she can squeeze free rent out of the guy, he'd have access to all her stuff and if he's skeevy enough to try this it's a short stop to helping himself to her stuff when she's out for the day.

And Nthing talking to a lawyer. They could point out a lot of detail your friend may miss!
posted by Heretical at 12:46 AM on July 4, 2011


Nthing all the calls to take the better decision for the longer run - finding another rental apartment where there are no such restrictions. you don't want to be sneaking around the apartment block you live in for the rest of your stay
posted by infini at 12:46 AM on July 4, 2011


I would recommend:

1) taking any steps to minimize her expenses from this debacle. Cancel the movers, extend her current lease, etc.

2) add up what expenses she incurred as a result of the new 'landlord' being a moron

3) if the number in (2) is greater than or equal to $NON_TRIVIAL_AMOUNT, consult a lawyer and/or write moron landlord with itemized expenses and ask them to make good. Be prepared to follow up with suit in small claims or regular court, depending on the amount in question.

4) if the number in (2) is less than $NON_TRIVIAL_AMOUNT than flag and move on ... I mean move on.
posted by zippy at 3:24 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


@zippy: It's a one year lease. She signed it. The landlord is now obligated to provide her with a suitable living arrangement for the rent she was paying. She has the lease in writing. The landlord's problems are not her problem.

Proceed with small claims court action immediately for the breach of your lease.
posted by DetriusXii at 10:17 AM on July 4, 2011


Sorry, but I've got to agree with the folks saying Find Another Apartment. It's VERY unlikely the condo owner didn't know about the no-renters policy: if it was in force when he bought the unit, then legally, he probably had to SIGN THE HOMEOWNER'S AGREEMENTS saying so at the time of purchase; if the rule was changed at a later date, as others say above that would have been a MAJOR deal, and again he had to know about it.

What can the HA do about it? I'm a condo owner, but I'm neither a lawyer nor in your state; still, I think it's unlikely the HA can, for instance, physically evict your friend from the apartment, unless the landlord failed to pay his HA assessments. However: since she would clearly not be a legal resident, there's probably no reason they would have to give her access to the building excercise rooms or passes to the pool --- or even, if it's a security building, exterior door/garage keys.

It's a hassle, sure, but finding another place is better than renting from a sleezy landlord.
posted by easily confused at 10:40 AM on July 4, 2011


« Older Any online artist critique sit...   |  Is there a name for this style... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.