What are the reasons we would be able to break our lease?

We have only lived in this building 3 months and are miserable. Our balcony and bedroom windows are facing 3 parking lots (3 different buildings) and there is loud noise at all hours (car alarms, honking, stereos, people fighting/arguing, etc). I’m pregnant & can’t sleep so this is affecting my unborn baby, me and my husband that works 50hrs weekly and can’t sleep. Also, our neighbors are loud at all hours in the am and do drugs and are dirty and disturbing beyond normal. I can’t take this anymore-we are miserable and I’m afraid for my unborn child.

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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You most likely do not have grounds to terminate your lease. To begin with, the building's location is what it is--it hasn't moved since you signed the lease. Having signed a lease for an apartment in this location, you cannot legally complain about--or have grounds to terminate your lease--due to neighborhood, lack of views, all the parking lots, street noice, etc.

Second, a landlord is not generally responsible for the criminal or wrongful acts of its tenants, so that does not necessarily provide grounds to break or terminate the lease.

Third, while a landlord is obligated to provide you "quiet enjoyment" and can evict tenants who disturb your quiet enjoyment of your premises, you first have to give the landlord written notice (sent some way you can prove delivery) and a chance to take action. If the landlord refuses to act, you *may* then be able to terminate your lease because you have been deprived of quiet enjoyment--but be advised that this is a very difficult showing to make, because if the landlord elected to sue you for the unpaid rent, you'd have to prove that the conditions were essentially so intolerable that either 1) the apartment was effectively uninhabitable or 2) that you effectively could not make use of your apartment. That is, if you leave for this reason, there is a good chance the landlord could sue you and hold you accountable for the unpaid rent for the full remaining balance of the lease term.

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