Can I break my lease due to a leaking window?

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Can I break my lease due to a leaking window?

We have a lease and notified the landlord 16 days ago. She said the leak was repaired however it recently rained 2 days ago and water is still coming in. She said the maintenance man would come today but he didn’t show. We have to pay rent on the first ($1025) and I’m wondering if this is grounds to terminate our lease? We are expecting a baby within the next 6 weeks and have delayed setting up her nursery because of the leak. Now I’m worried mold may begin to grow since the carpet and wall were wet by the rain. How do I legally break our lease?

Asked on April 28, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You may not be able to terminate your lease due to a leaking wndow or the possibility of mold--it depends on how bad the leak is and whether mold does in fact develop. All leases come with what's known as the "implied warranty of habitability," which is the obligation that the rental premises be "fit for their intended purpose." Conditions which render a rental apartment or home unfit for residence will violate this warranty--but lesser maintenance issues will not. So a leak that mostly just results in some water staining to the walls or damage to a small area of floor would not violate this warranty, whereas a leak which lets in gusts of cold air, which floods the floor, or which does lead to a potentially hazardous mold condition may well violate it. Only if the implied warranty of habitability is violated might you have grounds to terminate the lease early without penalty.

The specific facts, therefore, are critical to determining your rights. You should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney, who can evalute your situation in detail.


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