If I was burned out of my unit due to a fire in my apartment complex, canI terminate my lease?

UPDATED: Sep 7, 2011

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If I was burned out of my unit due to a fire in my apartment complex, canI terminate my lease?

I moved into an apartment complex 5 weeks ago; I signed a 12 month lease. Then 3 nights ago the complex had a fire. I wanted to terminate the lease because I was unable to save anything and I’m completely starting over. I have a 6 year old child without a bed to sleep in; I walked away with flip flops and pajamas and a blanket wrapped around my baby. I spoke with the manager and I was told in order to terminate my lease I had to pay them $1,000, not to mention I had just paid my rent for the month and a security deposit of $350. They were offering another apartment but I had just moved there and brought a house full of new furniture.

Asked on September 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Indiana


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you have a written lease with your landlord for the unit that was damaged/destroyed by the fire, you need to carefully read the document in that its tems and condiions control the obligations owed you in the absence of conflicting state law.

If the apartment that you were renting is uninhabitable, then you have no further obligation to continue with your lease with the landlord in that you no longer have the unit that you agreed to in the condition you wanted.

You need to send a written notice of termination of your lease to the landlord advising him or her of the specific reasons for such (destruction/damages to the premises) and request the pro-rated return of your rent and the entirety of your security deposit.

Hopefully you had renters insurance to compensate you for your destroyed belongings.

If your landlord refuses to return all pro-rated rent post the fire paid and your security deposit, you should contact "legal aid" assuming there is such a program in your community or contact a landlord tenant attorney.

Good luck.


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