Do I have to pay lease breaking fees and/or rent if my apartment is in a condition which could make me sick?

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Do I have to pay lease breaking fees and/or rent if my apartment is in a condition which could make me sick?

Today, I came home from my classes and when I took off my shoes and socks I realized that I was standing in dirty, smelly, backed-up toilet water embedded in the carpet (it extended from the bathroom out into the dining room). This happened to my next door neighbor too. It got on materials and clothes. I called maintenance and they sucked it up with a machine and said it would take 2-3 days to dry. Not good enough, it smelled and it was making me ill, literally, because it’s not sanitary not to actually clean it. I’m at my mother’s house now wondering what to do now. Can I break the lease?

Asked on October 29, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Louisiana

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is something under the law known as a warranty of habitability, which basically says that an apartment must be "habitable" - free from pests. safe (health wise too), etc.  If the landlord breaches that warranty then the lease can be void or voidable, depending on the law in your state.  Some states allow the lease to be voidable at the discretion of the tenant but most states allow a landlord to fix or repair the conditions that caused the breach to make the apartment habitable.  Obviously an unhealthy condition exists.  What you need to do is to bring an action in court against the landlord to correct the condition or to void the lease and continue to pay the rent in to court but ask for an abatement while you have to live at your Mom's.  You may want an attorney to review your lease and let you know how it applies to the law in your state.  Good luck.


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