Is it possible to break a lease without penalty if the apartment is not safe nor is it as quiet as the landlord told me it would be?

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Is it possible to break a lease without penalty if the apartment is not safe nor is it as quiet as the landlord told me it would be?

Asked on February 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It depends on both what exactly the landlord said, and how bad the problems are:

1) If the landlord knowingly made materal--or important, or significant--misrepresenations of fact--or lies--to induce you to rent the premises, and it was reasonable to rely on those representations, and you in fact did rely on them, then the fact that they were misrepresentations, or lies, may constitute fraud. If they do, that could provide grounds to rescind the lease or seek compensation.

2) Every lease has what's known as the implied warranty of habitability--the requirement that the rental premises be fit for their intended purpose. Safety issues which render the premises not safely habitable may violate this warranty, giving the tenant grounds to terminate the lease and/or seek damages.

3) Leases also have an implied covenant of quiet enjoyment, or the requirement that the landlord not do things which effectively prevent the tenant from "enjoying," or making use of, the premises. Landlord actions which cause excessive notice may violate this, again providing grounds for termination or compensation.

In short, the factual situation is a critical determinant for evaluating whether and when a tenant can terminate a lease. Typically, it must be a major problem, or a major lie, under the landlord's control, to give rise to the right to terminate.

Also, the lease can, depending on its terms, either expand the tenant's rights, giving him or her more protection, or restrict the tenant's rights somewhat.

If you wish to explore whether you can safely and legally terminate your lease, you should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney about the situation; the lawyer can evalute the lease and the circumstances.


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