Is it legal for me to break my lease due to unsafe living conditions?

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Is it legal for me to break my lease due to unsafe living conditions?

Someone attempted to break into out home and when I asked the landlord to put proper lighting behind out home so it wasn’t an open opportunity for crimes to happen he told me numerous times he would look into it then came to the conclusion he wasn’t going to do anything to make my family feel safer without even telling me. Also, we where lied to about the type of neighborhood this was. I specifically asked was it safe, quiet, calm place to live. We hear gun shots in the middle of the night and constant base and loud music. This area is considered the hood. Is it legal for us to break this lease due to these unsafe conditions for my family as well as my 1 year old son?

Asked on October 23, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) Whether or not the landlord needs to install additional lighting depends on whether or not the lighting that has been installed/provided is more-or-less the same as that provided by other landlords (or possibly installed by homeowners) in like circumstances. A landlord's obligation is to do what is reasonable; what is reasonable is generally judged by the standard of what other, similar property owners do. If your property is lit as well as the average similar property in this or similar neighborhoods, you'd likely not have any legal case for terminating the lease; but if the landlord is providing significantly less behind-the-home lighting that other property owners have, you may be able to terminate the lease for violation of the implied warranty of habitability.

2) The fact that the landlord lied about the neighborhood similarly *might* provide grounds to rescind (cancel) the lease. It depends on whether or not you had a reasonable opportunity to check out the neighborhood yourself prior to moving in, since if you could do your own "due diligence," you would not be deemed to have relied on the landlord's representations. So if you were relatively local and could check out or would have been aware of the neighborhood, you probably could not rescind the lease, since no matter what the landlord said, you should have known better, and therefore will be deemed to have rented with knowledge. On the other hand if you were moving from another city and had to rely on the landlord said, then--assuming you can prove what the landlord said--you may be able to rescind the lease.


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