How do I break an apartment lease, due to unsanitary maintenance neglect and insect problems?

The management at our apartment keeps delaying fixing the bathroom roof because of a leak upstairs. The paint and plaster is falling into our shower. Its been close to 4 weeks now and they have given us 2 dates for it to be fixed. As of today, nothing. Also, we have complained of finding insects such as centipedes and nats on our floors and walls. They claimed to have an exterminator whom sprayed all the buildings? After talking to other tenants, nobody has every heard nor seen such a person. I have only 4 months left on lease. I want out tremendously but I don’t want to pay fee.

Asked on July 18, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

All rentals come with the obligation to provide premises that are "fit for their intended purpose"--i.e., that are safely inhabitable. Conditions which prevent a rent from being safely inhabited violate this warranty and may allow the tenant to terminate the lease early without penalty.  Unfortunately, the problem with paint and plaster falling into the shower would most likely not rise to that level, not unless the shower cannot safely be used. The problem is, only maintenance issues that essentially prevent inhabitation will allow early lease termination.

A severse enough insect infestation could provide grounds to leave earlier--since a bad infestation can affect health--but 1) it has to be bad infestation and 2) you must first give the landlord notice in writing of the problem and a reasonable chance (which can be a few weeks) to address it. From what you write, you may be best off waiting for the last four months of the lease to expire.

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