CanI break a new lease if the apartment is infested with roaches?

I just signed a 1 year lease yesterday and found roaches crawling all over the place tonight. I can not/will not move into a place with bugs. What canIi do?

Asked on December 10, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In every lease there is an implied warranty of habitability, which means the landlord must maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.  The roach infestation presents a health hazard and constitutes a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease.  If the tenant decides to stay on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.

If the landlord has been notified and is unwilling or unable to eradicate the roach infestation, there is clearly a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

Since you do not want the apartment due to the roach infestation, your strongest argument to terminate your obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease is to claim a breach of the implied warranty of habitability and that the premises were not delivered to you in a habitable condition.

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.