What can I do if my landlord violates the lease?

| 22/03/2019 | 9 Comments

We just recently moved into a rental home. We signed the lease which stated internet included. Now the landlord says they don’t want to provide internet anymore and cut the service off. Is there anything we can do? Isn’t that breach of contract?


Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

Auntie’s answer:  While I want to stress, as I have done before, that I am not a lawyer, your situation seems about as straightforward as they come. But I also checked with a local realtor who deals with a lot of rental properties to get his advice.

Based on your description, and if both you and the landlord signed the lease, then it certainly appears the landlord is in breach of that contract. Of course, I have not seen the details of the lease and do not know if any caveats may have been injected into the document.

However, the realtor explained that if this was the standard lease that you usually find here and it contains the clause that the landlord would provide internet service, he can’t then just decide he no longer wants to pay for that.

I will refrain from using bad language but it sounds like your landlord is not behaving honourably or fairly. Even though I do not have his side of the story, if the words “the landlord will provide internet service”, or something like that, are in the lease then that seems solid evidence that he is not keeping up his side of the deal.

Which leads to the other question you asked about — what recourse you have. You haven’t said if you have already complained to the landlord about cutting off your service. Are the lines of communication open? Would you be able to suggest you pay for your own internet and deduct the fees from your rent, since he was supposed to foot that bill?

If you have already tried talking to him, then there are other more serious steps you can take. I feel safe in assuming that the landlord is figuring you won’t bother to do anything about the breach, that you would not want to put any time or money into fighting him. But a fairly inexpensive option is taking him to small claims court; you can read about how to make a claim on the Judicial Administration website.

Or, if you have a friend who is a lawyer, you could show him or her the lease and ask them to write a letter on your behalf to the landlord and maybe that will be enough to get your internet restored.

By the way, the Residential Tenancies Law, if and when it is enacted, will not really help much. The law calls for the appointment of a Residential Tenancies Commissioner who will be available for mediation of landlord/tenant disputes, but the job does not come with any teeth. He or she can offer advice and try to negotiate a settlement between the two parties but Section 10(8) says the commissioner “has no power to determine any matter in dispute, whether with or without a request by the parties”.

I realise that if you decide to fight the landlord that will not do much for your relationship with him, so the other decision to be made is whether you want to continue living there.

It is a great shame that you have to deal with someone who is not treating you fairly or honestly. I will say, though, that not all landlords are like him – I would not trade mine for anyone else – and I hope the next one adheres to the terms of the lease.

This question was sent some time ago and after several attempts to get an answer, it unfortunately fell through the cracks. I apologise for the delay in responding.

The law mentioned above can be found on the CNS Library

Send questions to auntie@caymannewsservice.com

Category: Ask Auntie, Landlord/Tenant Questions

Comments (9)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    yawn… or just leave cayman….

  2. Anonymous says:

    CNS would you mind posting a copy of the “standard lease that you usually find here” according to the local realtor? Even that would be a helpful starting point for many renters, as many of us see the most creative and unusual terms in rental contracts here. I think the worst affected are around $1,800 p/m and less (the less you pay the worse it gets) with private landlords. It would be nice to have something to refer to.

    I’m a mature professional female worker and an exemplary tenant with references. I’ve rented for 13 years, have seen some of the weirdest ‘standard’ leases, and had too many bad landlord experiences:

    1. Bi-polar English lady. Spent every moment out of work getting drunk and aggressive, and taking it out on me.
    2. Lonely, bipolar, passive-aggressive, drunken, crackhead US lady. Spent every moment possible hanging out at my place. Had to get away.
    3. Caymanian man. Inclusive rental. He never paid bills. Water and electric kept getting disconnected. Place overrun with scorpions. Often came home from work to find him sat on my sofa demanding rent before due. He seemed to think “it’s my house I can do what I want”. Refused to change or return half my deposit despite leaving the house perfect.
    4. Little house owned or managed by Filipino man with status, who lived in big house next door. Found out his electric hooked up to mine + someone sleeping in his shed. House full of cockroaches and needed repairs which he didn’t fix (despite promising before I moved in). When confronted about electric (showed him how I traced the cables with help of CUC guy) he flat denied and refused to return deposit when I gave notice and moved out. Said I owed money for electric.
    5. My fave home of all. Lovely Caymanian lady. Never troubled me at all. I stayed until rollover, got full deposit back and good reference when I left.
    6. Back from rollover. Caymanian landlady. Seemed lovely at first, turned out crazy. Kept “inspecting” house unannounced with family members while I was at work (neighbours told me). Demanded money for bills without showing bills, which she kept in her name. Only bill I saw in first month was for the month before I moved in. She gave notice and refused to return deposit when I kept giving her what I thought was reasonable, and said I would pay the rest when she showed me bills. House was filthy when I moved in but I saw potential. It was immaculate when I left.
    7. Another Caymanian lady who lived next door. Really nice but a bit controlling, wanted to approve on notice any visitors and refused to allow overnight guests of any description, in spite being aware I rented a 2 bed from her so family could visit. Also frequently came in and used my washer to get two loads done at the same time.
    8. Currently have American landlords. Love it here. Only complaint is lack of privacy because they like to pop in unannounced, and I like my right to quiet enjoyment.

    I swear this is no exaggeration and I am sure there are many similar tales out there. Renting here is truly a nightmare and good private landlords like gold dust.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Do you need a two or three bedroom? My friends and I may have some available coming up late August. I only care if the rent is late. You are given a list of people up front who to call if repairs are needed – electrician, AC, plumber. Email me pictures/description of the issue beforehand and things will get repaired 24 hours up to a week depending on the maintenance individuals availability. Spraying of pests is done twice a year. Usually after rainy season.

      Not all landlords are terrors. But I usually have long term tenants that never want to move. Neither does my circle of friends that are landlords.

      On the flip side, I have experienced terrible tenants that don’t clean, don’t pay, destroyed every piece of furniture inside, cut holes in the mattress/ceiling to hide drugs, said only two individuals would live there and ended up having 10. It costs a lot of money to get tenants out and repair damages left behind. I would rather quiet, clean, tenants that pay on time.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh, yeah… The ‘bad’ Caymanian landlords are notorious.
    I left my car in the driveway and bedroom door locked when I left to wait on a permit. (Rent paid up) Came back 3 weeks later to find out that he had rented my place out from under me. That put me and 2 others out of a place to live, scrambling to find another place within a matter of days.
    While I was away they were doing work throughout the rest of the house. (They broke into my locked room for whatever reason) He kept my security deposit for cleaning the entire house after his reno work.
    Said he didn’t know I was coming back… LOL! Yep, left all my belongings and my car in the driveway! I’m guessing that happens all the time??
    I’d love it if he read this and recognized himself but I believe he is dead now. His health deteriorated soon after he screwed me over.
    Karma

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Just leave. It will not get better. Suing your landlord is a bad idea in almost all cases.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am not sure if you used a realtor here but I have found that it is best to use one. They can act as a go between for you..Most of the realtors, will stand up for their clients and get the Landlord to honor his/her agreement. If the Landlord fails to make right the agreement he will be blacklisted as the Realtors won’t want to rent his place again and because the Realtors work together and share listings word gets around real fast and it will tough for that person to get someone to represent them or to rent their place.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Just leave, it won’t end there. He’ll continue to nickel and dime you, things won’t get repaired, maybe your things will go missing. If you find a good landlord, stay put, there’s ALOT of less than desirable landlords out there.

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  7. Thumbelina says:

    If the lease spells out that internet is included, then they have to either provide internet, or reduce rent amount.
    I had an experience of suing a landlord for unlawful eviction and keeping my deposit, and it was a very long and tiresome process. I had to hire a local, Caymanian attorney, and won on technicality. I got my money back plus the attorney fee which was a fixed amount which depends on the claim amount. I persevered because it was a matter of principle. Only in a lawless society a property manager could bang your windows at 11pm, frightening you, police refuse to intervene because it was a “civil” matter.
    In a lawful society she would have been arrested and put behind the bars by POLICE.
    Before you start bashing me verbally: all lights in the residential complex, including pool equipment, were “erroneously” hooked to my meter ( WHO ISSUED AN OCCUPANCY PERMIT???). I could just flip a switch and everything would have stopped working, yet, I continued paying for “their” electricity and addressing the issue with landlord. When it was going nowhere, I said I would close my account with CUC. That same day I and my roommate came home from work and the locks were changed. Police didn’t show up and some sort of commissioner “approved” unrestrained bizarre actions of the landlord. It was getting dark and all our stuff was inside.
    Insults and threats from the property manager, and then from the landlord were the last drop. I sued them. But it was a very long process. And you have to have an attorney who knows everyone and who everyone knows.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Terrible, I can relate. Your last sentence and earlier comment says it all: that you had to have a Caymanian Lawyer, who knows everyone and who everyone knows. That was a lesson we learned very early on in the Cayman Islands.

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