After signing a rental lease and getting the keys prior to moving in,, can we cancel the lease for a home that we found out is uninhabitable ?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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After signing a rental lease and getting the keys prior to moving in,, can we cancel the lease for a home that we found out is uninhabitable ?

Missing windows, tore and taped screens, ripped floor tiles, filthy stove/oven,
filthy bathroom tub and toilet.
This place was never painted, cleaned or anything fixed since the old tenants
moved out a week ago. Paid 650 rent and 650 deposit plus a 150 pet deposit.

Asked on October 7, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

IF the landlord does not replace the missing windows (including ensuring that windows latch so as to provide basic security) and replace/repair any "tripping hazard" tiling after you provide written notice of the problems and some reasonable chance/amount of time to do so, you could most likely terminate the lease. Those conditions would render the property unsafe to live in and so violate the "implied warranty of habitability," or obligation imposed by law that rental units be inhabitable. But you do need to provide written notice and a chance to repair before you can terminate the lease on this basis; only if the conditions are not corrected after notice could you terminate your rental without penalty and get your deposit back.
As to the filth, dirt and window screens: those are not elements intrinsic to the home which affect habitability. A place can be perfectly habitable without window screens; and you (the tenant) can scrub/clean the oven, bathroom, toilet. (It's not the landlord's responsibility to clean; it is the tenant's.) Those factors, while it is perfectly understandable and reasonable why they are upsetting, would not be considered to violated the implied warranty of habitability and would not provide a basis for terminating the lease.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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