Can I terminate my lease early without paying for the months it takes my landlord to rent out my unit again because the hasn’t made necessary repairs, etc?

I’ve lived in an apartment for about 3 months now and when I originally moved in the landlord told me that they would fix minor repairs: one of the burners on the stove is out, my shower head leaks, and there’s a broken window in the living room. My landlord still has not gotten to anything but also doesn’t pick up when I call. When one of the hot water tanks broke last month and I had to shower at my friend’s house for 3 days, they didn’t reimburse me in my rent. Can I get out of there because my landlord just plain isn’t doing their job, without losing more than my deposite and first month?

Asked on October 31, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can do the following. Review your lease and see if there are provisions regarding the landlord's breach of lease and what you are required to do pursuant to the lease to preserve your rights. If those provisions are missing or you are still not sure, do not worry. Check with your state consumer protection bureau about what sort of landlord tenants rights pamphlet or information sheet they have. Then do what the lease and tenants rights laws state for you to do. You are usually required to place your concerns in writing and give the landlord a certain amount of days to fix the problem. At the same time, you may wish to go ahead and file a complaint, as well. Your landlord cannot kick you out in retaliation. Then, give the landlord a short amount of time to fix the problems. If the landlord does not repair, you can have someone repair these items, and merely deduct from your rent. Provide copies of the receipts to the landlord to prove your claims. If all else fails, inform the landlord in writing of his breach and then move and seek your security. No matter what, the landlord is still required to mitigate his damages.

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