Can I get out of my lease if the house is overly dirty, unsafe andthe landlord refusing to make repairs?

We moved into our home after my husband saw it once. We were told it was being painted and repairs were being made. We moved in and had 2 leaking toilets, sink that leaks, carpet stains all over and found out a few weeks before we moved in the woman committed suicide here and she would have homeless friends come over and use the house (they still are showing up at my here). We changed the locks for security purposes but the house is still dirty after scrubbing and things still broken and we don’t feel safe. I’m 6 months pregnant and we have 2 kids ages 5 and 6.

Asked on October 21, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) The home seems as if, despite being dirty and having some leaks and other problems, it is habitable--that it is, broadly speaking, fit to be used as residence. That means there is no violation of an implied warranty of habitability, and no grounds to get out of the lease because the home is uninhabitable. The implied warranty of habitability is only violated by things like major roof leaks, mold, lack of heat, no hot water, etc. Toilet leaks, dirt, etc. don't violate it.

2) The fact that homeless friends of the former resident keep coming over does not give you grounds to terminate the lease; that is something over which the landlord has no control and for whcih he or she is not responsible.

3) IF the landlord promised that repairs, paint, etc. would be done, and that promise was made prior to you signing the lease, and the only reason you signed the lease was because of the promise, that may provide grounds to rescind the contract (on account of fraud--that is, misrepesentations) or to force the landlord to keep his or her promise and do these things (based on the theory of promissory estoppel). You should consult with an attorney about the situation.


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