What are the laws about breaking a lease agreement due to unsafe living conditions?

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What are the laws about breaking a lease agreement due to unsafe living conditions?

Asked on January 14, 2013 under Real Estate Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the conditions are unsafe for habitation or residence AND--

1) are the landlord's responsibility--for example, that there is a significant mold condition, or no heat;

2) the landlord is aware, or logically must be aware, of the conditions; and

3) the landlord has had a reasonable opportunity to fix the problem--but hasn't

--then the tenant may be able to treat the lease as terminated and move out without penalty.

On the other hand, if all three of these conditions are not met, the tenant may NOT break the lease. Therefore, for example, if the unsafe conditions are caused by something beyond the landlord's control--like a dangerous or high-crime neighborhood--there are no grounds to terminate the lease.

Also, the unsafe conditions must truly make it unsafe to live there--if it "merely" makes it undesirable, there are no grounds to terminate the lease.

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the unsafe living conditions make the unit or apartment uninhabitable then a tenant is required to give a landlord notice of the condition and a reasonable time to repair the condition.  It's always best if this notice is in writing.  If the landlord fails to repair the unsafe conditions, then the tenant may break the lease and have no further obligation to the landlord.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Assuming you can get your local health department or buidling and permit department to inspect the unit and red tag it as being unsafe for human habitation due to dangerous conditions, under the laws of all states in this country you can legally terminate your lease with your landlord without legal recourse.


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