Can a lessee terminate a lease if the lessor is not living up to their end ofthe lease agreement?

If a Lessor is not providing proper unit maintenance that have/can cause a major health or security issue (visible mold with a pregnant women in the house for example, or replacing locks that have visible damage of an attempted home invasion), and care of such items are outlined in the lease. Does the lessee have the right to terminate the lease at their discretion?

Asked on October 8, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Every residential lease contains an implied "warranty of habitability". This is a guarantee that gives a tenant the right to live in a clean and safe premises (i.e. "habitable" premises). Consequently, if a landlord fails to perform necessary maintenance or needed make repairs, a tenant can: 

  1.  Repair the problem and then deduct if from their rent;
  2. Terminate the lease and vacate the premises; or
  3. Withhold rent until the completion of the repair(s). 

Note: Before pursuing any of these self-help remedies an attorney should be consulted  If proper legal procedures are not followed, a tenant could be held liable financially.


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