What is the worst that will happen to me if I move-out of my apartment before the lease ends?

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What is the worst that will happen to me if I move-out of my apartment before the lease ends?

My roommates moved out and I cannot afford a huge apartment by myself. My landlord has already violated the lease. There is no heat in 3 rooms. At one point we were without heat for almost 3 full days in the winter. No snow removal. When we moved in, most of the electrical outlets in the living room were not working. None of the rooms were painted. There were no working smoke alarms. His maintenance worker is his brother, who is not on lease and on disability. Landlord knew about all problems, but sent brother with no training/knowledge to fix, and didn’t fix them.

Asked on March 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

What's the worst that could happen? You could be sued by the landlord for all amounts due under the lease from the time to breach it until the end of the lease, lose, and have to pay.

If the landlord has in fact violated the lease as you say, you *may* have grounds for legally terminating the lease; in particular, a lack of heat, which drastically affects habitability, may be a violation of the "implied warranty of habitability" and allow you off the lease. (Lesser problems, like not paint, do not; they just give rise to a claim for damages and/or for an order than thel landlord fix the issue.) But you need to do this properly, since if you don't, you'll find yourself liable. You should contact an attorney with landlord-tenant experience and let him or her help you get out of the lease. You may also have grounds to sue your ex-roommates if they moved out in violation of the lease and left you holding the bag.


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