CanI break my lease because someone broke into my apartment?

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CanI break my lease because someone broke into my apartment?

My grandma is 64 and her apartment got broken into. She has police reports and told the landlord, then she moved. Now they trying to charge here credit for the rest of rent/lease.

Asked on January 15, 2012 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, being robbed or having your apartment broken into does not generally allow you to break a lease without penalty. A tenant may only terminate a lease if the landlord has violated the landlord's responsibilities or obligations in some material, or significant way; however, the bad or criminal act of a third party not under the landlord's control does not give the tenant the right to break the lease. (The law does not make the landlord suffer--lose the rent to which it is legally entitled--because of something someone else did.)

If the break in only occured because of the landlord's material failing, then that might provide grounds to terminate the lease. For example, say that the lock to your grandmother's apartment was previously broken or didn't work, your grandmother had reported that to the landlord, the landlord had failed or refused to fix it, and the break in occured because the landlord did not provide your grandmother a working lock--that might justify terminating the lease.

However, without circumstances like those set out above, your grandmother almost certainly could not  legally terminate her lease andn would still be obligated for the rent.


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