Is there a way out ofa lease if you feel that your safety is in jeopardy?

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Is there a way out ofa lease if you feel that your safety is in jeopardy?

My mother’s apartment has been broken into twice. The apartment will not let her out of her lease.

Asked on January 25, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

IF the reason for the break-ins is that the landlord is refusing to provide what would be considered normal or reasonable security for a building like that in that area, that *might* provide grounds to terminate the lease, since it could be a violation of the implied warranty of habitabilty--the obligation of landlords to ensure that rental premises are fit for their intended purpose (e.g., for residence). So if the lock to your mother's apartment is defective or broken, and the landlord won't fix or replace it; or the lock is a particularly cheap  or weak one; or there is no lock on the outside door to the building; or the windows won't latch--if these or similar conditions caused by the landlord resulted in the break-ins, that might give your mother grounds to leave.

On the other hand, if the landlord has done nothing wrong--it's provided the same type of locks, security, etc. as other landlords do in that area, for example--then your mother could not terminate the lease, not without still being liable for the rent due under it. A contract may only be terminated generally if the other party has done something wrong; in the absence of wrongdoing or fault by the landlord, there would be no basis for termination.


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