Can I break my lease without penalty due to unsafe conditions?

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Can I break my lease without penalty due to unsafe conditions?

It has been 92 degrees for the past 3 days. Our air conditioning in our apartment has not been repaired even after several written notices and a phone call. We are unable to cook or even stay in our apartment for long periods due to the heat. Is it possible to break our lease since they did not provide safe and comfortable housing as assigned to them in our lease?

Asked on August 4, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

This is something you should speak with an attorney about--one who specializes in landlord-tenant law. To provide some background: there is something called the "implied warranty of habitability." It is added (implied) to all leases, and states that the premises must be safely inhabitable. If the premises is not, the implied warranty can give rise to legal claims and can even provide grounds to break a lease. However--and this is why you need attorney guidance--while certain things (no heat in a MN winter; no running water) would clearly be grounds to breach, it's not clear that a lack of air conditioning in 92 degree heat rises to that level. It's uncomfortable, but there are any number of people who live in those conditions without air conditioning, so its not uninhabitable. An experienced attorney can provide more feedback and guidance about what to do in your specific case--whether you do have grounds to terminate the lease, or instead may need to bring a legal action for damages (monetary compensation) and/or to force the landlord to repair the unit.


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