Can a tenant terminatetheir lease early due to the landlord’s failure to repair defects inthe apartment?

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Can a tenant terminatetheir lease early due to the landlord’s failure to repair defects inthe apartment?

Some outlets don’t work, both bathrooms and kitchen have wall paper ripped and falling off, we were told problems would be fixed 2 days after moving in, work orders have been turned in, dishwasher does not work and walls obviously news to be painted in most areas throughout the apartment.

Asked on June 10, 2011 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a tenant, you have the right to the "warranty of habitability".  This is the right to live in a clean and safe premises. Accordingly you can: repair and deduct (fix the problem yourself and have the landlord reimburse you) or withhold rent (don't pay rent until the repairs are made). Additionally you could terminate your lease and hold your landlord liable for reimbursement of any expenses incurred as a result of any move (but its not clear that the repairs needed are of a serious a nature so that you would have to vacate the premises). 

You should consult directly with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant matters.  If you fail to follow the proper procedures for attempting any of the above remedies you could be held financially liable. You can contact legal aid if you qualify or even a legal clinic at a law school (if there is one nearby). Additionally, you can do some research and represent yourself; contact the clerk of the court for more information. Finally, you can contact a tenants rights organization for help.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a tenant, you have the right to the "warranty of habitability".  This is the right to live in a clean and safe premises. Accordingly you can: repair and deduct (fix the problem yourself and have the landlord reimburse you) or withhold rent (don't pay rent until the repairs are made). Additionally you could terminate your lease and hold your landlord liable for reimbursement of any expenses incurred as a result of any move (but its not clear that the repairs needed are of a serious a nature so that you would have to vacate the premises). 

You should consult directly with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant matters.  If you fail to follow the proper procedures for attempting any of the above remedies you could be held financially liable. You can contact legal aid if you qualify or even a legal clinic at a law school (if there is one nearby). Additionally, you can do some research and represent yourself; contact the clerk of the court for more information. Finally, you can contact a tenants rights organization for help.


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