This is a long story, so I'll try to keep it as brief as possible:
I'm a single-Mom with 2 young kids, and my Mother lives with us. We rented a house through a property management company, pro-rated rent to move in Feb. 15, 2005. We were to pick up keys on this day (signed-lease, etc.), but property manager said new locks were being installed, so just gave us garage key - went to house (they had said the house had been "deep cleaned") - and it was FILTHY!!! Maintenance guy was there installing new locks, and the two inside doors that go out to garage were gone and he was installing "fire safe" doors. The living room and bedroom windows had no locks. Needless to say, we could not move in until all of these things were taken care of. We complained about all of this - but to no avail - our rent was not re-prorated and we were not able to move in until Feb. 28 - even though we had paid rent for those 2 weeks.
We loved the house and had just paid almost $3,000 to move-in...being a single-Mom, I was in no financial state to fight this too much.
The house included a refrigerator (in the lease) and an above-ground swimming pool that after the owner paid first-round to get it up and running, would be our responsibility afterwards.
Three weeks into us living there, the refrigerator stops working. We put in a maintenance request, they send repair person - not to repair, but to give an estimate of repair cost - and he said the compressor was dead in frig and would need to be replaced. The property management company told us at this time that the owner refused to replace frig and we'd have to buy our own. At this time, the property management company said we could break the lease if we chose to. We were so angry - scraped $ together and bought our own frig. No new lease was ever drawn up to "un" include the frig. So, from this point on - we feel the owner "breached the lease". Is this correct?
A week later (we've been in the house 4 weeks now) the property management company emails and says the owner wants to bring his family by to look at the house - we knew at this time, something was seriously wrong. The owner came by and "showed" the house.
A few months go buy - and the upstairs bathtub starts leaking through the ceiling - we put in request for repair - a repair guy comes out and fixes it. A month later, it happens again over the weekend - we call the emergency repair line and leave a message - the property management company never calls back. We wait 5 days - and follow up with them - they did not apologize or acknowledge any wrongdoing - I asked, was this the right number for us to call? and they said yes" - they sent a plumber over and he "jimmyed" it to stop leaking - he told me that all the plumbing needs to be replaced in the upstairs bathroom and that the owner would not replace it. He "hoped" for our sake the sealant he used would work.
Summer came, and no contact from property manager about getting pool ready to use. In the meantime, we're stuck with a stewing pool of stagnant dirty water and bugs - we decided against using the pool for the summer and asked for it to be drained. I called the health dept. first to be pro-active and they said it was a health hazard but that they had no legal recourse to "make" the owner drain it (????). It took 3 weeks to get any response - but the owner suddenly decided that he was going to tear the pool down, once it was drained (there goes the pool in our lease). So, he has a crew come tear it down - which leaves a 20X20 hole in our backyard - full of rotten leaves, nails, misc. debris, bugs and sand - and leaves all of the pool parts/debris/pump/ladder laying in the backyard. The hole becomes a sandbox for all of the neighborhood cats - my children could not play in the backyard all summer. The owner refused to fix the landscaping in backyard and it took him 2 months to have someone come pick up the debris - but left the pump and ladder (these are huge) in the backyard.
The rent has never been readjusted due to the loss of frig, or pool, or decent backyard.
8 months into the lease - we ask about whether it's going to be renewed (believe me, we don't want to stay but financially haven't had much choice) - we're told the owner is moving back into the house (he's not - it's the family he showed the house to 4 weeks after we moved in).
We have had it - this isn't even everything that has happened.
We want to move out, and we want some our "move in" money back. We just got screwed through this whole process. I feel like maybe we have the grounds to break the lease and/or go to small claims court to get our move in & moving costs returned. The owner breached the lease from the get-go.
Do we have a case???
Any advice you may have is greatly appreciated.