How can we break our recently renewed lease with minimum penalties?

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How can we break our recently renewed lease with minimum penalties?

We live in an apartment that we just renewed our lease; this past month was the beginning of our third year. However recently we have had some concerns with safety of the complex. We have a shared entry to our building (the kind where you have to buzz people in). Our apartment complex has had to fix the door to the building six times in the past 2 weeks because someone keeps breaking it. Also, while we don’t have proof, we are pretty sure someone has tried to break into our car the past few nights.

Asked on April 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you may not be able to break your lease with minimum penalties. A landlord is not responsible for the criminal acts of third parties not under its control; that means, among other things, that you cannot break your lease with the landlord due to the criminal actions of unrelated third parties.

A landlord does have an obligation, as part of the "implied warranty of habitability," to provide for tenant safety or security. However, the landlord's obligation is merely to 1) provide those types of security measures which a reasonable landlord would provide, and 2) to fix or repair any problems with those measures ina reasonable time. You describe a  situation where the landlord seems to be providing normal apartment building security (an entrance which requires that guests be "buzzed" in) and seems diligent about repairing the security when it is damaged or broken (you write  that they have fixed the door at least 6 times). In that case, the landlord is  most likely fulfilling its obligations. This may be a matter for a tenant or community meeting with the police, to see if  they can step up patrols or take other action.


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