Landlords or apartment management can sometimes list an apartment size incorrectly. However, this is usually because the advertiser included other areas in the square measurement. I have been there and rented an apartment smaller than advertised. I, however, managed to resolve the dispute, which I will share with you in this post.
In my case, I recently moved to a cozy studio apartment and signed a 12-month lease. The advertising for the apartment listed it as having a roomy 500 sq ft of space, with the monthly rent set at $738. But when I measured it myself, I found that the apartment was actually only 342.5 sq ft in size. That is 32% smaller than what was advertised. If we calculate the rent according to the actual size of the apartment, I should be paying $236.63 less each month. Throughout the entire lease, that difference adds up to a significant amount of $2,839.56.
But don’t worry if the apartment is smaller than advertised. I will tell you how I was able to resolve mine. Depending on your situation and the apartment, however, you would want to consult with a lawyer right away. But first, let’s see other things you can do about this matter.
Apartment Smaller Than Advertised: What to Do
When it comes to square footage, it can be quite tricky because different people might have different ways of measuring the area. Walls and other structures can easily reduce the usable area by around 200 square feet. If you didn’t inspect the place before moving in, it might not be the landlord’s problem, as a move-in checklist is usually required for landlords to collect a deposit. However, the rest of the lease might still be enforceable. So, is the apartment smaller than advertised? Below are the things you should do in this situation.
Talk to the Apartment Management
The first thing you should do is have a conversation with the apartment complex or management. Ask about how they calculate the square footage. They might include balconies or patios in the square footage. Don’t accuse them or demand answers; just ask how they arrived at the specific square foot measurement. It might just be a simple misunderstanding. Once you have their response, you can decide how to proceed. In my case, it was due to how the apartment measures in square feet.
If talking to the owner doesn’t resolve the issue and you haven’t moved in yet, don’t. Get in touch with the management and let them know that the apartment is not what you expected and that they can’t take a damage or security deposit before doing the walk-through. There are different rules for holding deposits that might not be as tenant-friendly. If you don’t agree with the contract, you might be able to rescind it if you act quickly.
The Landlord Counted Other Areas on the Property
Your apartment might be counting the square footage of other areas of the buildings on the property, such as a garage, in the total square footage. Did you not notice if the square feet were missing when you first entered the house? It’s typically the renter or buyer’s responsibility to check the measurements if they are important to them.
The landlord might be counting the area of the garage or some other building in the total square footage. Note that the market value of a rental doesn’t always correspond to the square footage. For example, a 1000-square-foot apartment in downtown Seattle might cost more in rent per month than the monthly mortgage payment of a typical 3000-square-foot house in Tacoma.
Ask the Landlord to Reduce the Rent
If you are still renting the house, you can talk to the landlord about possibly reducing the rent. If you have lived there for some time, then the place obviously meets your needs to some extent. Talk to the landlord about reducing the rent. If they won’t budge and you feel cheated, consider moving when your lease is up.
Can You Sue if Your Apartment is Smaller Than Advertised?
Depending on the situation, you can go to court if your apartment was advertised falsely. In many states, you can sue to get compensation for the problems caused by the false ads. Even if your state does not have laws about false ads, you might still be able to sue for fraud. At the national level, it’s illegal, thanks to the Federal Trade Commission Act. In California, per the law (Business and Professions Code § 17500), it’s unlawful to conceal information when it comes to real estate.
If you have rented an apartment smaller than advertised, talk to your landlord about it. As mentioned earlier, they may have included other areas in the measurement. If the landlord concealed information from you, talk to a lawyer to help with this kind of case. You do not want to lose money on false or deceptive apartment advertising. If you believe you have a case, you can contact your lawyer to discuss your options.
Read also: Landlord lying about damages [what to do]