Can I break my lease2 months early due to an on-going outdoor rodent problem?

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Can I break my lease2 months early due to an on-going outdoor rodent problem?

I moved into my apartment 3 months ago. Since then we have had an on going rat problem. I have only seen them outside and in my outdoor storage. I have called and told management multiple times, they did last summer set an outdoor rat trap, but have not caught anything or done anything more about it. Can I be release from my lease due to this issue? I have a 15 month old and don’t want her to be put in danger of physical harm or illness caused by these rodents and they are bold enough to run right next to you in the middle of the day.

Asked on April 9, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking, if there is a rodent problem inside the housing unit and the landlord has refused to take care of it or the attempts have failed, a warranty of habitability is broken and then you have a means for breaking the lease agreement.  Here , the rodent problem is outside the dwelling unit but inside the storage unit, which you still pay for, so I think it may be reasonable to bring the issue up. Egress and ingress to the unit seem to be compromised as well so I think you are ok there too.  Also, I am sure that ther are Department of Health violations going on here which need to be addressed.  Landlords are generally in violation of some health code if there are rats on the premises they own.  But you have to give the landlord time to rectify the problem.  Go to Court and ask to start an action where you pay your rent in to court until the problem is rectified. If it is not rectified then the court may give you the option of breaking the lease. Good luck.


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