If my landlord is not taking care of things that need to be done in my apartment, can I get out of my lease agreement and get back my deposit?

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If my landlord is not taking care of things that need to be done in my apartment, can I get out of my lease agreement and get back my deposit?

I have been living in my apartment for two weeks. The landlord still has not put screens in all of my windows. It is over 90 degrees and there is no air conditioning either. Plus, I only have deadbolts for locks and no door handle locks, there is mold inside the dishwasher that doesn’t work, there is mold inside the seals of the freezer and refridgerator, and the back door has a slit in the wood so it would be easy for someone to kick the door in. I also suspect that my landlord and his friends that have been in my place are under the influence of illegal drugs. I don’t feel safe and want out.

Asked on July 16, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Iowa

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

All leases come with what's known as the "implied warranty of habitability"--the requirement, imposed by law, that the rental unit be fit for its intended purposes (i.e. residence) and safely habitable. Many of the conditions you describe (mold; lack of locks; weak back door) would violate this warranty by impacting health and/or safety. If  you have provided the landlord written notice (preferably sent some way you can prove delivery) and given him a reasonable amount of time to fix these conditions and he has not, you should have grounds to safely terminate your lease.

 


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