I communicated with the Maryland leasing agent during Fall of 2018 by email as I was living in CA at the time. He offered a beautiful Penthouse apt. with all kinds of upgrades, a fireplace, balcony, floor-to-ceiling windows - sent dazzling photos and the perfect layout (floorplan) entitled "Your New Home." After arrival, I was escorted into the office to sign the lease documents and then was shown a DIFFERENT APT. The movers were on their way and my new job had started, and I was stuck, wondering if my memory was off. A couple months after when things settled down (nightmare move), I found the original floorplan/emails and they acknowledged it was the wrong one. I asked to move to a non-penthouse apt. that fit my furniture - this apt. has such a narrow living room that my recliner is in my dining room. there is no fireplace, balcony, upgrades, and small windows - it's dark and depressing, and I'm paying $1,000 more/month than a regular apt. No apology or offer, but I was told I can move to another apt. in the building when my 12-month lease is up!

I filed a Landlord-Tenant Complaint with Montgomery County. Although they're supposed to be tenant friendly, they have been useless, dragging their feet, saying nothing can be done that the landlord won't agree to. I gave notice in mid-October and am moving out the 7th of December (lease isn't up until 31st of Dec.) and I'm told I have to pay until then -- $3,200/month. The AC has never worked right; my refrigerator has needed repairs 3 times this year, causing expensive meats and vegetables to spoil; and the water is shutoff periodically for all-day repairs. Is there NO legal recourse? How can they get away with treating tenants like this?

  • Since the apartment was not the one you agreed to, the rent should not have been the amount that you agreed to either. You may be able to get some help from a private tenants' rights organization. If not, you can retain a lawyer who specializes in landlord and tenant law. – phoog Nov 25 '19 at 5:26
  • Thanks - all I wanted is to be let out of my lease early - on the 7th of Dec. rather than the 31st, since I'm moving. You'd think they'd work with me on that after everything. After filing the landlord-tenant complaint, they finally offered a couple of months ago to let me move to another apartment and go with a 6 month lease, let me out of this lease - so I don't see why they can't accommodate? Hiring a lawyer may end up costing more - plus the hassle right now when I'm moving, right? – Carol T. Nov 25 '19 at 13:24

What constitutes FRAUD by a landlord before leasing?

Elcon Const. v. Eastern Washington Univ., 273 P.3d 965, 970 (2012) lists the prima facie elements of fraud. Identifying how each one of items (1)-(9) listed in section Fraudulent Inducement matches the situation you describe is straight-forward. That being said, signing a contract usually supersedes previous representations or arrangements between the parties. Hence the importance of not signing a lease without being in agreement and fully aware of the terms thereof.

As phoog rightly pointed out, the misrepresentations made to you by the landlord warrant an adjustment of the rent. The landlord is wrong in requiring you to complete the 12-month lease at a unit that materially departs from the representations made to you.

You should assess whether section §8–211(e)(1) of Maryland Article on Real Property covers the defects you endure. If it does, be sure to comply with the requirements in item (g).

they have been useless, dragging their feet, saying nothing can be done that the landlord won't agree to.

The county agency might not have paid attention to the fact that the landlord not only agreed to a set of conditions, but it also admitted the discrepancy between the original floorplan/emails and what was delivered to you. Of course, it is unclear from your post what you asked the county agency that prompted it to make its generic and obvious statement to you.

Is there NO legal recourse?

Yes. Depending on the terms of the lease you signed, you might have a viable claim of breach of contract. Likewise, the gravity of the defects of your unit might trigger the protections from the aforementioned statute.

Item (i) of that statute provides that "the tenant may bring an action of rent escrow to pay rent into court because of [...], or the tenant may refuse to pay rent and raise the existence of the asserted defects or conditions as an affirmative defense [...] to any complaint proceeding brought by the landlord [...]"

  • Thank you for your response. In my initial Landlord-Tenant Complaint filed many months ago, I did ask to be compensated for the difference between what I've been paying in rent and what I rightfully should have been paying, had they allowed me to change apartments (as other SMC-fun properties offer if a tenant is unhappy for ANY reason, whether their fault - as it clearly is in this case - or not) - and to be let out of my lease in 30 days. The past 2 months, I am only asking to be let out of my lease early so I can move. – Carol T. Nov 27 '19 at 13:29

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