How do I get out of my lease early?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How do I get out of my lease early?

We rent a house and when moving in the landlord said that they were going to landscape the backyard; they also put into the lease agreement that

gardener would be covered by the landlord. Now, 4 months in, no landscaping and a gardener has never come weeds up to my waist. What is the process for

terminating the contract without any penalty?

Asked on September 19, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

A lack of landscaping and no gardner is probably not a sufficiently "material" (or important/critical) breach by the landlord as to allow you to terminate the lease early, since those issues do not go to the core function or benefit of renting a house: a home to live in. Only material breaches--ones that basically go to the essence of a contract or lease--allow early termation. However, that does not mean you would not have recourse; you could probably sue based on breach of contract and/or fraud (lying about what he'd do, to get you to sign) to get compensation; and/or you could withhold partial rent (after providing written notice to your landlord, preferrably sent some way you can track and prove delivery, that will do this unless he address/corrects the situation) to pay for landscaping and a gardner--then, if the landlord sues you for  the money and/or tries to evict you, you would raise the landlord's breach and fraud as a defense, justifying the withholding. The amount withheld should be reasonable for landscaping and a gardner, not excessive.

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