How do I break a lease due to an ongoing rodent issue?

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How do I break a lease due to an ongoing rodent issue?

We have had rodent issues for 6 months. The city inspector found our landlord in violation of ordinances, sent a notice for pest and construction to be addressed (there are cracks, holes etc that the mice are entering through). The landlord said he would let us out of our lease and return our deposit and then 2 days later changed his mind and said he was going to sue us. How do we break out lease and get our deposit back due to the living conditions?

Asked on October 19, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Missouri

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability, which means the landlord is required to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.  Since the city inspector has cited the landlord for violations, the landlord has breached the implied warranty of habitability because the rodent infestation is a health and safety issue. If the landlord fails to make the necessary repairs within a reasonable time which has already occurred because the rodent problem has existed for six months, the tenant has the following remedies for a breach of the implied warranty of habitability:  The tenant can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent or the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if the tenant decides to stay on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.  Another alternative is to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit) would include your deposit.


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