Can we break out lease without penalty due to extensive needed repairs and an unresponsive landlord?

UPDATED: Apr 15, 2012

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Can we break out lease without penalty due to extensive needed repairs and an unresponsive landlord?

We’ve had a leak in our rental for nearly 2 months. The house is so humid that the doors won’t close and we’re having bug problems. It smells terribly like mildew. I have tried to get a hold of our landlord over 4 times; I have all text messages and he finally came out, looked around and said he’d get someone out there. But nothing. Then our water heater sprung a leak and we came to find out that our hot water heaters pipe had been made to vent into the old chimney and came close to letting carbon monoxide into our room and the nursery. The ceiling and walls are cracking and seem to be damp. They finally are sending someone out. With all tof he problems and lack of response from the landlords, can we get out of our lease without penalty?

Asked on April 15, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Oklahoma


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability which requires the landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with state and local housing codes.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord as you have done and the landlord is required to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.

When the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time and make the necessary repairs, the tenant has the following options:  The tenant can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent or the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if the tenant stays on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.  Another alternative is to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  The conditions you have described endanger health and safety and therefore constitute breaches of the implied warranty of habitability.

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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