Is a tenant being “uncomfortable” a reason to break a lease agreement?

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Is a tenant being “uncomfortable” a reason to break a lease agreement?

We own a condo and rent it out. One of the roommates is claiming that they are uncomfortable and feel unsafe and that they can move out without paying rent. They say that they are nor bound by the contract.

Asked on November 3, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In a word, the tenant is wrong. In two words, very wrong. A contract is, by definition binding--and a lease is contract.

There are grounds for getting out of a contract generally, the two major ones of which are:

1) Fraud in the inducement: if the contract (or lease) was based on material (or important) misrepresentations knowingly made, the party which was lied to may have grounds to rescind it.

2) Breach: if one party breaches a material--again, important--term, the other party *may* be entitled to reciprocally breach, though more common is to sue for compensation.

So if you didn't lie to the tenant to get him or her to sign and you're providing what the lease calls for, they can't rescind or terminate it.

An additional point is that  leases have an implied warranty of habitability. IF the premises is not safely habitable--no heat; no running water; major leaks; dangerous electrical or structural faults or a serious mold condition; etc.--then if  the landlord does not remediate the condition, that may provide grounds for the tenant to terminate without penalty.


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