Can I end my lease early without credit damage if I fear for my safety?

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Can I end my lease early without credit damage if I fear for my safety?

Recently, my fiance’s van was vandalized (back windshield was shattered) by a suspected individual that had threatened damage to his car 5 months ago. This individual made several death threats during the time we had realized the glass was shattered. We cannot find any direct evidence that this person was responsible, but the death threats have cause extreme psychological damage to both me and my partner and I so we’d like to move. Our apartment complex manager offered to move us to another unit, but we want to move out completely.

Asked on August 5, 2011 New Jersey

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I understand your situation about being fearful for your safety. However, the person who you "think" vandalized the van and made threats to you came about not as a result of the complex where you live but presumably prior contact from somewhere else.

You should get report the death threats to law enforcement and get a restraining order aginst the person making the threats.

Your apartment complex manager by offering to move you to another unit shows concern by the landlord about your unfortunate situation. If you want to end your lease early, the landlord is under no obligation to voluntarily agree to do so. If the landlord agrees, then you have no worry about a negative credit result. If you end your lease early without the landlord's agreement to do so, you run the risk of owing the landlord money for unpaid rent and possible credit damage.

Good luck.

 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

IF the person doing the damage and making threats is another tenant, AND the landlord is refusing to take action (e.g. evict them) for disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct, you MAY have grounds to terminate the lease without ill consequences. Or if the individual is not a tenant, but the landlord is refusing to take whatever are the typical security precaustions for your area (e.g. decent locking doors, lights in parking lot, etc.--what the typical apartment building should have), that may provide grounds to terminate the lease.  If you think either of these is the case, consult with a landlord-tenant attorney to see what rights you may have.

On the other hand, if this person is not a tenant, ans if the building has reasonably adequate you have no right to break the lease: the lease is an agreement between you and the landlord, and only if the landlord somehow is at fault (not providing security; not taking action against a disruptive tenant) can you possibly terminate the lease. The landlord is not responsible for threats from persons over whom he has no control.


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