Can I break a lease to an apartment if the lease was signed to one landlord but then the property was sold to another?

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Can I break a lease to an apartment if the lease was signed to one landlord but then the property was sold to another?

The property needs repairs to the roof of an apartment, where it leaks. The stove only has one working burner with the wires taped together. The water pipes is cracked and only held together by pampers tape, there is mildew, and the house is poorly insulated. I decided to move into an apartment near my mother to help her with her medical issues, but I was told I will have to pay rent for my current place until the lease is up. Although, when I informed the property manager of my intent to move, he told me it was okay as long as I gave a 30 day notice. Which I did give him notice and paid rent for the next month.

Asked on January 7, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, you may not break the lease because the property was sold: the lease goes with the property (the property is bought subject to it) and is still in effect. You *may* be able to break the lease because, based on what you write, the landlord is violating the "implied warranty of habitability": the law requires rental units to be fit for their intended purpose (e.g. as a residence), and bad leaks, mildow, a barely working stove, etc. impact habitability. Landlords may not get rent for uninhatiable space. If the landord has refused to fix despite being told of these conditions, that may let you treat the lease as terminated due to his breach--there is a risky element to doing that, however, since a habitability issue is very subjective, or open to a judge's personal discretion. If the landlord sues you for breach of lease to recover rent, a judge could find that the condition(s) were not bad enough so as to warrant terminating the lease.


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