Can you break a lease due to a technicality?

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Can you break a lease due to a technicality?

If a tenant intentionally leaves out an initial in a lease stating they accept the home as safe, then after taking possession decides they want to break lease, can they use this to invalidate the lease? Many more details in play, but basically, the house is in safe condition. They signed the lease sight unseen and now wish to break lease after only 21 days. We did attempt to remedy the situation with a professional cleaner (they say it is dirty), and when they wanted further cleaning, they refused the service and gave us a 24 hour notice to vacate. They want full refund of deposit and rent.

Asked on August 22, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Mississippi

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, "technicalities" do not provide grounds to break contracts, including leases. If there is a "material" breach of the lease by one party, then that may give the other grounds to terminate the lease--e.g. if a house was not inhabitable (and the leasee did not agree in writing to take the house in that condition), that could be grounds to terminate. Less important breaches usually only justify either remedial action and/or some monetary compensation.

A key issue in a situation like the one you describe may be whether the tenant truly did "intentionally" leave out an initial, to try to give him/herself grounds to break the lease later....or whether they did not in fact see and agree to a clause that they were accepting the house in the shape it was in. If the latter, they may have grounds to get out of the lease, so if the clause you refer to was in small print, was on a different page, was sent to the lessee separately, etc. and it's reasonable that they never even saw it, they might have a good case. You should probably consult with an attorney who can evaluate  the situation for you.


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