Can we break a lease if the contract doesn’t specify the consequences of leaving early?

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Can we break a lease if the contract doesn’t specify the consequences of leaving early?

Our apartment is infested with bedbugs and roaches, which we were not informed of upon moving in. We want to move out. The contract we signed doesn’t specify consequences of breaking early or the conditions of the apartment. Can we ask for our deposit back?

Asked on September 13, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In California like most states, when a landlord rents a property to a tenant, he or she is obligated to ensure that the property is safe and free of harmful conditions such as vermin like you described.

You need to immediately call your landlord about the situation requesting that it be taken care of swiftly following up with a written letter confirming your conversation. If the bedbug and cockroach problem is not responded to promptly by the landlord, contact the local health department about the situation and request an inspection. Depending upon the inspection's result, the landlord will most likely me more willing to help take care of the vermin problem.

You should also make inquiries of the landlord about getting a written release from your contractual obligations due to the problem. Unfortunately, from what you have written, you do not have a basis to end your lease. If you break your lease at this time, you could be responsible for the balance of its term. You need to wait to see if the health department considers your unit a public health issue.

Good luck.

 


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