Q: What rights do I have and what are the legal ramifications?

I live in a household that was converted into 3 separate apartments. It has come to my attention that the owners never registered the property has a multifamily household. Power constantly trips and my internet was disconnected because the new tenants added internet services and since their lease is new, spectrum sees it as we've moved out even though we haven't. My question is what rights do we have as renters and what could possibly happen to us if its discovered that this property is not zoned to covert this property legally into a multifamily home?

1 Lawyer Answer
Charles M.  Baron
Charles M. Baron
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: If it is not zoned for multifamily and the owner did not obtain a variance and/or permitting to allow the different use, both you and the landlord have a problem, but you would then have remedies against the landlord. Code enforcement could order a prompt cessation of the multifamily use. The landlord would then be legally obligated to let you out of the lease, return the security deposit, etc. The landlord may also be liable to you for costs incurred, such as moving costs, due to fraudulently inducing you to enter into a lease for premises you had no reason to believe were unlawful. Of course, if you knew from the git-go that the premises were illegal, you couldn't claim you were fraudulently induced.

Generally, for a landlord's failure to meet the material terms of a lease (such as internet services specified in the lease), the tenant can give the landlord 7 days written notice demanding that the issue be solved, and if the landlord fails to comply, the tenant can break the lease without obligation and vacate the premises. But in your case, you should be able to get out the lease without obligation anyway if the local government shuts down the premises.

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