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


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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.