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

UPDATED: Aug 4, 2010

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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