CanI break the lease if theA/C does not work?

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

CanI break the lease if theA/C does not work?

I lived in an apartment for 4 months and in that time my A.C went out 9 times for 1-2 weeks at a time. In the third month we gave them a 30 day notice because not having A?C in the desert is too hot and it not being fixed properly. Did I have proper grounds to terminate the lease early? Should I be charged? They want over $5,000.

Asked on February 9, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You *may* have a defense to the landlord's claim. All leases contain an "implied warranty of habitability," or the requirement that the premises be fit for its intended use; i.e. inhabitation. In the desert, the lack of air conditioning might be consdered to render the apartment uninhabitable, whereas in another state (e.g. NJ), it would not--it would only be an inconvenience.

Where you may have problems are:

1) First, as noted, it must be shown that the lack of A/C rendered the premises effectively uninhabitable.

2) Second, as you note, while the A/C went out 9 times for 1-2 weeks at a time, if it was working as of when you left, that would tend to undercut a claim of uninhabitabilty.

However, even when a condition like this does not rise to the level of justifying termination of the lease, it may still provide a basis for some recovery. This is typically a reduction in rent ("rent abatement") for the period of time (e.g. for nine 1-2 week periods), to reflect the difference in fair market rental value between the rental unit as impaired and an unimpaired unit. For example, it may be that you could be awarded a 25%+ rent abatement for, say 14 weeks. That award could be used as a set off against any amount you may be found to owe the landlord, if your termination of the lease is not found to be justified.

If you can't work matters out with the landlord to your mutual satisfaction and he sues you, you should both raise violation of the implied warranty of habitability as a defense and also interpose a counterclaim against the landlord for the time you were without A/C. Good luck.

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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption