Your Landlord Gave You the Wrong Apartment? Here's What to Do
You finally found the perfect apartment after weeks of searching. On move-in day, you arrive with your boxes and furniture only to discover the landlord has given you the keys to the wrong unit! This bait-and-switch situation can be incredibly stressful and frustrating. However, there are steps you can take to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Verify it is Actually the Wrong Apartment
Before panicking, double check your rental agreement and make absolutely certain you were provided the wrong apartment. Confirm the unit number, location in the building, and specific amenities or features that do not match what was agreed upon. If you are still certain this is not your unit, contact the landlord immediately. Point out the discrepancy politely but firmly, and ask them to provide access to the correct rental unit as promised in your contract.
Take photos and video that clearly show you have been given the incorrect apartment. Capture shots of the unit number on the door, the street view and building entrance, the floorplan, and any interior features or layout that differ from your agreement. Thoroughly document the condition of the apartment and any personal belongings you may have moved in already. This evidence will support your case if the issue escalates legally.
Don't Unpack Yet
Although it may be tempting to make yourself at home, avoid fully moving into the wrong apartment until the situation has been corrected. This also provides incentive for the landlord to promptly fix the issue so you do not displace the current tenant longer than necessary. However, you may want to leave some belongings or start sleeping there if the landlord is not making quick arrangements for your actual unit.
Review Your Rental Agreement
Carefully examine your rental contract to see if there is a clause about what constitutes breach of contract and the remedies available. Your agreement may specify that providing the wrong unit entitles you to terminate the lease and receive a refund of any deposits paid. Consult an attorney if you need help interpreting the terms and determining your options.
Send Formal Written Notice
Send a letter or email to your landlord summarizing the situation, referencing your rental agreement, and formally requesting access to the correct apartment immediately. Include a deadline for when you expect this to be remedied and state that you will consider legal action if the issue is not resolved by that date. Send this notice by registered post and email so there is a paper trail.
Negotiate a Temporary Rent Reduction
If it appears resolving the mix-up will take some time, negotiate a reduction in rent until you can move into your actual apartment. For example, propose paying 25-50% less rent for each day you reside in the wrong unit. Make sure these terms are formalized in writing before paying any rental payments. You should not have to pay full price for an apartment that you did not agree to live in.
Request Financial Compensation
In addition to a rent reduction, require the landlord to compensate you for the inconvenience caused by their mistake. This could include costs like ordering food if the unit lacks an operational kitchen, staying in a hotel if the unit is uninhabitable, storage fees for your belongings, and more. Calculate these costs and include them in your formal notice requesting remediation.
Contact Local Housing Authorities
If the landlord is unresponsive or refuses to correct the issue in a timely manner, reach out to local housing authorities for assistance. Explain that the landlord is not complying with the rental agreement and that you may need to take legal action. They can provide guidance on landlord-tenant laws in your state and potentially apply pressure on the landlord to meet their contractual obligations.
Consult a Tenant Rights Attorney
For professional legal help throughout this process, retain a local attorney that specializes in tenant rights and rental disputes. They can review your agreement, formally communicate with the landlord on your behalf, and let you know if you have grounds to terminate the lease, recover damages, or pursue other legal remedies. Having an attorney sends a strong message to the landlord that you are serious.
Move Forward with a Lawsuit
If other resolution attempts fail and the landlord is clearly in breach of contract, file a civil lawsuit to terminate the lease and recover any financial losses caused by their deception. An attorney can help assemble the documentation and evidence needed to prove your case and represent you in court if necessary.
Having the landlord provide you with the wrong rental unit can derail your moving plans and leave you scrambling for recourse. But by following these steps, you can thoughtfully address the issue and advocate for yourself every step of the way. With patience and persistence, you can get back on track to move into your real apartment. Don't let a wrong unit ruin your rental experience - know your rights and don't give up until your problem is solved!