I signed a years lease agreement to rent an entire house for $850. per month from a friend (owner) who was moving out of State. Before I moved in the friend (owner) decided not to move and we agreed to live in the house together. My rent was lowered to $800. per month and my friend(owner) would pay all utilities. He said he would write up a new agreement but never did. 4 months later he(owner) rented another room to another person. He lowered my rent to $650 per month. They started smoking marijuna in the house. I gave 2 months notice, paid the 2 months but moved out 10 days later. Also before I moved in I commented on the rugs having stains, the owner said I could use the rug shampoo machine if I wanted to clean them.
I received a letter from his attorney stating he wanted $5,500. for breaking the lease agreement and to clean/replace the rugs. I have 14 day to pay $4,000. or they will take the case to municipal court for the $5,500. plus cost and attorney fees. Am I responsible to pay?
2 Answers from Attorneys
There are a lot of different factors that can affect your case. First, was the original lease that you signed for you to live in the house alone? If so, it may be that the landlord breached the lease. If that is the case, you and the owner would be on a month-to-month agreement and you can move-out at any time as long as you give you 30 days notice. Another issue is the carpet cleaning. Generally speaking, a landlord is not permitted to charge a tenant for carping cleaning. There are other issues as well, but they will take much more time to review and analyze. Nothing can stop the landlord from suing you, but that doesn't mean that he has a good case.
You should retain a landlord/tenant attorney as soon as possible.
Andrew A. Esposito
Mr. Esposito is entirely correct in what he says. The only thing that I would add is that the landlord's smoking marijuana in the residence could be seen as constructive eviction and that would be a defense to any action he might file against you.
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