what can I do to break the lease and have my 3 months security deposit back?

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what can I do to break the lease and have my 3 months security deposit back?

I wrote to my landlord our intent to vacate the apartment as soon as possible
because of pipe’s noises. we moved on Dec 28th but the landlord ask me to
pay all the monthly rent until he find another tenant.
I can’t pay 2 rent in the same time and I think that all the noises preclude the
warranty of habitability.I have recorded many time the noises.
What can I do?

Asked on January 16, 2018 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There is no "procedure" to break the lease early for habitability reasons, other than first giving the landlord written notice of the problem and some reasonable time or opportunity to correct it. (What is "reasonable" varies with circumstances and the issue, so there is no way to specify generally what it should be.) If the problem is not then fixed, you move out and hope the landlord accepts your action and does not sue. 
If the landlord does sue, a court will then decide if your action was justified. This is a subjective evaluation by a judge, who will decide if in his/her consideration, the condition was so bad as to make the unit uninhabitable and "constructively evict" you. If the judge decides against you, you will be liable for rent until the earlier of 1) the expiration of your lease or 2) the landlord re-rents the space. Remember: the lease is a contract: in it, you agreed to pay rent through the whole term of the lease.
In my experience in landlord-tenant law in NJ, pipe noises would not be considered to be so bad as to render an apartment uninhabitable, unless they are so loud and constant as to preclude sleep by a reasonable person, and proving that can be difficult. For example, if other tenants put up with the noise and live in their apartments, that undercuts the claim that they are intolerable. You run a real risk of being liable for the rent. 


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