Can I get out of lease due to unsanitary debris found on my terrace from other tenants?

UPDATED: Jan 5, 2012

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Can I get out of lease due to unsanitary debris found on my terrace from other tenants?

I live in a sky rise. I have a very large terrace below a bunch of other tenants’ balconies. There are about 30 stories above me. I have found tons of cigarettes, coal briquettes, used condoms, dead gold fish, plant debris, silly string, and trash. I’ve complained to the management multiple times and they’ve said they can’t take action unless I know who it is. They also promised to clean the terrace weekly but only did so once. Is this in any way a violation of my lease or grounds to break the lease?

Asked on January 5, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It's not a violation of the lease--unless your lease has some term(s) relating to cleaning, hygiene, sanitary conditions, etc.; you should double check what your lease may say on these subjects--but it may be a violation of the implied warranty of habitability. That warranty is added by law to all leases; it requires landlords to maintain leased premises in a way fit for their intended purpose--i.e. residence. Potentially disease-causing trash could violate this warranty. This may also be a violation of your right to quiet enjoyment, since the rain of unhygienic debris may violate your right to use part of your premises, your terrace, free from disruption.

Violation of either warranty/right could allow you to terminate your lease; alternately, they could provide the basis to sue for a court order forcing the landlord to take action and/or to seek compensation. However, if you terminate your lease when the situation doesn't quite warrant it, you could find yourself liable to your landlord. You should therefore consult with an attorney in detail before doing anything, and follow his/her advice as to your recourse and best way to vindicate your rights.

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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