If there are unlivable conditions in my apartment, can I terminate my lease?

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If there are unlivable conditions in my apartment, can I terminate my lease?

Asked on October 2, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Possibly. All rental properties come with what's known as the  "implied warranty of habitability." This is the obligation, placed on the landlord by law, that the premises be "fit for its intended purpose"--such as residence--and therefore that it must be safely inhabitable. A condition such as lack of heat, mold, large holes or leaks, etc. which renders a premises unsafe or unhealthy to live in violate this warranty.  Note that the condition must be so bad as to essentially render the premises unsafe or unfit for habitation; minor problems, like stains, weak hot water, old or peeling paint, etc. do not violate the warranty.

If the warranty is breached AND the landlord does not correct the problem after notice of the condition (that is, after you make sure the landlord knows) and a reasonable opportunity to fix the problem (you have to give the landlord some time), the tenant may be "constructively evicted" and be able to terminate the lease without penalty.


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