I was thinking of starting this with, "a friend of mine..." but I'll just be honest and say it involves me...
I've lived in the house for three years. My roommates have changed over time, some for one year, some two, none three. I've been a good tenant, paid rent usually on time, this that and the other. Place hasn't burned down, whatever.
I had to find roommates that I didn't know in year 2. One of them left in the middle of the night in February, thus not holding up his end of the rent for the remaining time (lease ends May 31). The other essentially did the same thing around the same time and had the [garlic knots] to sue the landlord for his security deposit back (and the cost of the moving van!) despite him breaking the lease. The remainder of us continued to pay our share of the rent (a divided up number well over $4,000 a month originally).
So in the summer, I ask him what he's going to do about those two guys...and he says, "nothing, nothing I really can do" and suggests that I take them to small claims court myself. I was a little puzzled. He lazily took the money out of our security deposit...so that exhausted nearily all of our security deposit.
We renewed the lease to live there for another year (this current year, expiry May 31, 2011 or whatever). He returned the security deposit in the summer. I took out the utilities owed to me from the check and gave the rest back to him - $1000. Now, my roommates want to not pay the last month rent as a way of recouping money that they lost from the security deposit.
My landlord was here today, trying to coax rent out of everyone (only 2 of us were here out of 8 anyway) and I BS'd him...and he basically said he was gonna be here every day yada yada yada...now, my first point is, I believe a landlord must give the right to quiet enjoyment or whatever...meaning they can't unreasonably enter a premises without prior notice (usually 24-hour written notice). So, I feel I have something there...but that's just secondary.
Now, maybe you have an idea in mind as to where I stand....and it's probably, "well, he'll just take you to court for the rent minus the $1,000 SD" ...I'd think that too, but he handles things in a disorderly way and I'm certain of the fact that I have NOT signed any lease for this year. And I don't believe that more than half of the people that live here have either. Now, I have no intention of screwing over my friends and will not, but I have no positive feelings towards the landlord...so I don't really care about him so much...
What should I do here? Ignoring the obvious...just paying the rent like a morally responsible adult. Which I certainly would, had he not taken the security deposit - in my opinion - unfairly, by not liftiing a finger.
Am I out to lunch or out in left field or out to lunch in left field here? I checked out the NJ Tenant Law website which gives basic info, but nothing this advanced...anyone familiar with this type of stuff have an idea of where I/we stand?
Thanks, sorry for the long read.