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Rental Hell...sorry it's a novella

Posted by Jason Gonder on November 09, 1998 at 14:46:38:

I need some major legal advice here. I wrote a letter to my landlord letting them know that I would be vacating my apartment in 60 days (which is required in the lease), mainly because second-hand cigarette smoke was coming through the bathroom vent and was causing me significant physical discomfort (headaches, nausea, etc.). I wasn't sure if there were any legal precedent for such a claim and was just letting them know that it wasn't that they were failing as property managers. There is a provision in my lease that as long as I give 60 days notice and I pay rent up to the end of my 60 days that the only penalty for breaking the term of the lease (I had three months left in a one-year lease) is one month's rent. I thought everything was fine until I went to turn my keys in at the beginning of the last month of my 60-day notice (I was still intending to pay rent for this month even though I had vacated my apartment) and the property owner became very confrontational and physically threatening (he was clearly offended by the second-hand-smoke letter. This was after I had already passed them my keys (I thought the sooner I gave them the keys, the sooner they could rent the apartment and avoid any undue vacancy). I calmly handled the situation and quickly left the property before who knows what might have happened. Because of newfound distrust for the property owner and manager, I returned the next day to take pictures of my apartment so that they couldn't claim damage that wasn't done and they would not let me in the apartment for which I am paying rent (though it was actually due the day before). I had already worked out with them that I would be paying November's rent in December, along with the applicable late charges, but they still refused to let me enter my apartment because my rent was one day late. So my question is, Does their refusal to allow me entrance into an apartment for which they are requiring me to pay rent waive their legal right to collect this rent? I don't want to screw them over, but I also don't want them to think they can treat tenants like this. I was never late on my rent and never bothered any of the other tenants. I don't know where to go for legal help (I have very limited funds as I am a national-service participant.) and do not know what my rights are. Please help!

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