Can I end my lease and abandon my apartment if it is no longer habitable?

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Can I end my lease and abandon my apartment if it is no longer habitable?

I have had roof/ceiling leaks for a couple years. The shower leaks and will not maintain water temperature. Mold and asbestos has been discovered. I wrote my letters to the landlord last December. The city code inspector issued a citation/violation 02/18. The repairs have not been made to date (03/19). However, the property was sold on March 16. Do I have to start over again with the new owner or can I leave under CA Civil Code 1942?

Asked on March 19, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In every lease there is an implied warranty of habitability which requires the landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition based on compliance with state and local housing codes.  The items you mentioned were found to violate the local housing code according to the violation/citation by the code inspector a month ago.  The items you mentioned such as the roof/ceiling leaks, mold and asbestos are health and safety violations.  Since you notified the landlord in writing three months ago, the landlord has had a reasonable period of time to make the necessary repairs and has failed to do so.  Since the present landlord has failed to make the necessary repairs within a reasonable time, you don't need to wait for the new owner.

Therefore, you can either move out and terminate your obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term or if you decide to stay, you can withhold rent and defend against eviction.


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