Can I legally terminate my apartment lease early due to loud and disruptive neighbors?

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Can I legally terminate my apartment lease early due to loud and disruptive neighbors?

I signed a 1 year lease at an apartment complex. 2 months after doing this neighbors move in below me. They have had loud party’s with blaring music on no less than 7-8 occasions. These have gone as late as 5 am several times. I have complained to leasing office twice and called the police on numerous occasions. Still nothing has been done to stop this. I recently bought a house and asked them if I could terminate my lease 2 months early. They told me that they would not due this and would be charged several thousand dollars to break the lease. Is there anything I can do here?

Asked on July 31, 2011 Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a practical matter, there probably isn't anything you can do.

1) Sufficiently loud and disruptive neighbors in the same building or complex *might* in theory provide grounds for constructive eviction on the grounds of violation of the covenant of peaceful enjoyment or warranty of habitability--i.e. to claim you were forced out, and so can leave without penalty--but it is not at all clear that loud parties on "7-8 occasions" over a roughly 8 month period (so, 1/month) would rise to the level of disruption or disorderly conduct required to establish this. Generally, it takes something significant and ongoing to provide grounds to terminate a lease, and the level  of distrurbance you describe may well not be enough.

2) As a practical matter, if you leave 2 months early, the landlord will almost certainly keep your security deposit and may also sue you for additional money (e.g. if the deposit would only cover one month of rent). It will be beyond dispute that you broke the lease and did not pay rent; proving that you were justified in doing so will be uphill battle as it will require significant testimony, which may be contradicted by other parties. Thus, you'll be in the position of definitely owing money, probably losing your security deposit, and having to try to prove something unquantifiable (the level of disturbance) to assert your rights.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a practical matter, there probably isn't anything you can do.

1) Sufficiently loud and disruptive neighbors in the same building or complex *might* in theory provide grounds for constructive eviction on the grounds of violation of the covenant of peaceful enjoyment or warranty of habitability--i.e. to claim you were forced out, and so can leave without penalty--but it is not at all clear that loud parties on "7-8 occasions" over a roughly 8 month period (so, 1/month) would rise to the level of disruption or disorderly conduct required to establish this. Generally, it takes something significant and ongoing to provide grounds to terminate a lease, and the level  of distrurbance you describe may well not be enough.

2) As a practical matter, if you leave 2 months early, the landlord will almost certainly keep your security deposit and may also sue you for additional money (e.g. if the deposit would only cover one month of rent). It will be beyond dispute that you broke the lease and did not pay rent; proving that you were justified in doing so will be uphill battle as it will require significant testimony, which may be contradicted by other parties. Thus, you'll be in the position of definitely owing money, probably losing your security deposit, and having to try to prove something unquantifiable (the level of disturbance) to assert your rights.


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