Is it possible to break a lease without penalty if the apartment is not safe nor is it as quiet as the landlord told me it would be?

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Is it possible to break a lease without penalty if the apartment is not safe nor is it as quiet as the landlord told me it would be?

Asked on February 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It depends on both what exactly the landlord said, and how bad the problems are:

1) If the landlord knowingly made materal--or important, or significant--misrepresenations of fact--or lies--to induce you to rent the premises, and it was reasonable to rely on those representations, and you in fact did rely on them, then the fact that they were misrepresentations, or lies, may constitute fraud. If they do, that could provide grounds to rescind the lease or seek compensation.

2) Every lease has what's known as the implied warranty of habitability--the requirement that the rental premises be fit for their intended purpose. Safety issues which render the premises not safely habitable may violate this warranty, giving the tenant grounds to terminate the lease and/or seek damages.

3) Leases also have an implied covenant of quiet enjoyment, or the requirement that the landlord not do things which effectively prevent the tenant from "enjoying," or making use of, the premises. Landlord actions which cause excessive notice may violate this, again providing grounds for termination or compensation.

In short, the factual situation is a critical determinant for evaluating whether and when a tenant can terminate a lease. Typically, it must be a major problem, or a major lie, under the landlord's control, to give rise to the right to terminate.

Also, the lease can, depending on its terms, either expand the tenant's rights, giving him or her more protection, or restrict the tenant's rights somewhat.

If you wish to explore whether you can safely and legally terminate your lease, you should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney about the situation; the lawyer can evalute the lease and the circumstances.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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