Can I break my lease if the move-in walk-though was unsatisfactory?

I just signed a lease 1 week ago and paid security deposit. the rental manager said the apartment would be painted/cleaned prior to our agreed upon move in date, but as we did the walk-through before moving in, the “repairs” seem to make the apartment worse – paint splotches, odd odor, discolored areas, etc. I have not moved in yet and now do not want to. Can I break the lease I signed 1 week ago?

Asked on September 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You most likely cannot breach the lease. As a general rule, you cannot terminate a lease without penalty unless the conditions are so bad as to render the premises significantly uninhabitable, which, from what you write, is not the case. The only condition which might support that, if it is so bad that the average reasonable person would feel it renders the premises unusuable or unhealthy, would be the odd odors, and only if--even if it is that bad--the landlord does not take care of it after notice and a reasonable opportunity to do so. Paint sploteches and discoloration (unless the discoloration is mold related) never, in my experience, justify terminating a lease, since they do not affect habitability.

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