Can I terminate my lease as my landlord wants me to move out for a month in order to repair water damage but I’m suppossed to move soon anyway?

My lease is expiring in 3 months, I do not want to move out, wait a month and come back in for a few weeks. Can I invoke some health issues or something to break this lease? The place smells badly and the landlord said that he can do the repairs in a month’s time. I do not want to stay in this place. I paid my rent till the end of the lease, so I believe I am stuck. Can I invoke habitability concerns? I am renting a condo in a 200 unit building.

Asked on September 4, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A bad smell is not, by itself, enough to terminate a lease for habitabiltity (health) concerns, but if the premises is actively unhealthy, or unfit for habitation, you may be able to terminate your lease without penatly. Under the implied warranty of habitability, rental premises must be safely inhabitable.

You could also terminate your lease early if:

1) Your water will be turned off, either entirely, or for extended, frequent periods, during the time the work is being done (if such periods are when you are home--e.g. not only during the work day, when you are out, anyway), since an apartment is not inhabitable to be without water for a month.

2) If you landlord requires you to move out but does not pay for you to stay, during that time, at a reasonable (like quality) alternative to your premises, such as a short-term rental or hotel; in this event, the landlord is breaching your lease by denying you possession of the premises without providing a reasonable alternative.


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