How can I get out out of a lease if the rental premises are unsanitary and unsafe?

I rented a house on the first of this month. After I went in to clean I noticed exposed wires, a roach infestation, and windows that do not close/lock and are warped. I then told the landlord Iwanted out of the lease and wanted my money back. He hung up on me and now won’t return my phone calls or e-mails. What can I do?

Asked on September 6, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Kansas


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 that the landlord is required to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.  The conditions you have mentioned are health and safety violations which constitute breaches of the implied warranty of habitability.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord as you have done.  The landlord is required to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.  If the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time as occurred here, the tenant has the following remedies:  The tenant can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent or the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if the tenant decides to stay on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.  Another alternative would be to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

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