If it was not disclosed that my rental didn’t have analog phone service, can I break my lease?

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If it was not disclosed that my rental didn’t have analog phone service, can I break my lease?

I just signed a lease last month. The property manager (nor did my lease) state that the building does not have analog phone service. It only has VOIP, which is via internet. VOIP does not work if there is no power. I have a small child. In the case of a power outage and if I have an emergency I would not have access to a phone. I also, work from home and have supporting documents stating I must use analog phone services. My understanding was that analog phone service is like a “default” for home phone service. If it would’ve been disclosed to me prior to signing the lease I would’ve never considered living there. I want to know if there is any way I can get out of the lease?

Asked on September 19, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You indeed may be able to get out of the lease, though you are advised to consult with a landlord-tenant law attorney first, before acting--breaching a lease improperly, when you don't have valid grounds, can result in you being liable for all the remaining rent due for the balance of the lease term. It's therefore well worth the cost to have an attorney's assistance.

That said, since analog or traditional phone service is so ubiquitious and common, it is indeed the "default"--it is fair to say that people would expect it to be present (or at least available as an option; e.g. jacks in place which have turned off but which could be easily/cheaply reactivated) unless specifically told otherwise. Thefore, the failure to disclose something which a reasonable renter would take for granted could be considered a material omission which precluded a meeting of the minds or the formation of a valid agreement, and therefore grounds to void the lease.


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