Is there any way to get out of my lease due to the fact they are putting my 18 month old daughter at risk?

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Is there any way to get out of my lease due to the fact they are putting my 18 month old daughter at risk?

The carpet is coming up and the tacks are showing; they will not let us move to another apartment.

Asked on June 15, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A tenant has the implied right to the "warranty of habitability".  This is the right to live in a clean and safe premises. Accordingly you can:

  • repair and deduct (fix the problem yourself and have the landlord reimburse you);
  • withhold rent (don't pay rent until the repairs are made); or
  • you could terminate your lease and hold your landlord liable for reimbursement of any expenses incurred as a result of any move (but its not clear that the repairs that need to be made are of a serious a nature so that you would have to vacate the premises). 

You should consult with an attorney in your area who specializes in landlord-tenant matters, or you can contact a tenants rights organization for help. If you fail to follow the proper procedures for attempting any of the above remedies, you may be held legally liable.

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability which means that the landlord is required to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.

The tacks coming through the carpet would constitute a health and safety issue for your baby daughter crawling on the floor.  You could argue that this health and safety issue is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, if the landlord does not make the necessary repairs in a reasonable time after being given notice, the tenant can either make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent or move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if you decide to stay on the premises, you could withhold rent and defend against eviction. 


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