What are the grounds for breakinga lease?

We moved into a town home 4 months ago, signing a year long lease. The landlord lives out of state and his daughter (who is local) has been the person to handle any issues we have had. In the lease, it states that appliances included with the home were a washer and dryer. From the start, the dryer never worked. Within the first month, the LL’s daughter tried to fix the situation but action began to slow and now we are in month 4 with nothing. From the hurricane, the ceiling is sagging and discoloredand the only action taken has been an inspection for LL’s insurance coverage.

Asked on October 18, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the rental premises are not fit for their intended use--that is, not fit to be lived in--or there is a material (or important or critical) breach of the lease by the landlord, that would provide grounds to terminate tenancy and move out. It's not clear that the conditions you describe would quite rise to those levels--a "sagging" and "discolored" ceiling is not the same (yet) as large leaks, mold issues, etc., which would possibly be enough; and the lack of a dryer might not be material enough to justify your terminating the lease. On the other hand, you may well be owed some monetary compensation for these defects, and, as noted, it is possible that they rise to the level that would let you move out without penalty. You should consult with an attorney in detail about this situation to see what your rights are. Good luck.


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