In the courts eyes, would domestic violence be a sufficient reason for me to break my lease with my ex?

UPDATED: Jun 11, 2012

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In the courts eyes, would domestic violence be a sufficient reason for me to break my lease with my ex?

My ex and I signed a lease for one year, ten months are remaining. After a domestic violence episode I moved out, and informed our landlord. Our landlord is unfamiliar with this territory, but I know he can take my name off at his discression. If he does not, can I take this to court and free myself of legal obligations considering the violent situation?

Asked on June 11, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) Your landlord cannot take your name off the lease unless your ex also agrees; a contract may only be modified by the consent or agreement of all parties to it, not just two of three. So if  you and your ex were both signatories, then both of you, plus the landlord, would need to agree to this change.

2) A court would not be able to help you. A lease is a contract; you and your ex are both bound to your obligations under it unless a) the landlord does something significant to breach it; or b) the contract becomes impossible for reasons beyond anyone's control (e.g. the property burns down, is condemmed, is taken by emminent domain, etc.). However, you cannot escape your obligations because of something your co-signor or co-tenant is doing, even if that thing is both criminal and morally reprehensible, and the landlord cannot be made, even by a court, to allow you out of the lease due to your ex's actions.

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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