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Apartment Not Ready on Move-In Date: What Now?

Apartment under construction
By FindLaw Staff on November 07, 2019

Moving into a new apartment can be exciting, but it can also be stressful. Preparing as much as possible helps keep stress to a minimum, but sometimes factors outside of your control make the moving-in process more complicated.

If you are moving into a new apartment, chances are you are moving in at a time you and your landlord agreed on, so what should you do if the apartment is not ready on the move-in date?

If the Apartment Isn't Ready

If you show up to your new apartment building on move-in day and the apartment is not yet ready, you have a handful of options. You can:

  • Ask the landlord if there is another apartment you can stay in until your apartment is ready
  • Ask the landlord if there is another apartment into which you can move instead of the apartment that is not ready
  • If you are willing to wait until the apartment is available, ask if the landlord will cover the cost of your hotel, moving truck, etc.
  • Break the lease; you do not owe the landlord anything until you physically move in

Breaking a Lease

If the lease you signed had a specified move-in time and the landlord failed to have the apartment ready by that time, the landlord has breached the lease agreement and you can demand the landlord give back any money you may have paid.

Additionally, the landlord's breach of contract may make the landlord liable for your expenses if you are forced to find another place to live. However, landlords may be resistant to this idea, so it is wise to keep a thorough record of all expenses should the matter go to court.

Landlord's Responsibilities

When a tenant moves into an apartment, the tenant and the landlord enter into a contract and the landlord must also fulfill the required duties. Some landlord responsibilities include:

  • Maintaining a habitable living space for tenants, e.g., heat in cold weather, functioning plumbing
  • Making repairs to facilities when needed
  • Fulfilling duties specified in the lease agreements

Even if the move-in goes as planned, you will always benefit from knowing and thoroughly understanding the terms of your lease and your rights as a tenant.

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