If when I moved into my apartment there were drg needles many other issues during my few months there so I broke the lease and left, do I have a case to fight collection?

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If when I moved into my apartment there were drg needles many other issues during my few months there so I broke the lease and left, do I have a case to fight collection?

It was an unsafe enviornment. I have photo evidence.

Asked on January 10, 2013 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It depends on how you broke your lease.  If you left in compliance with the law as it applies to tenants, then yes, it could be a basis for fighting collection activity.  California has some proactive landlord-tenant laws to protect consumers, but tenants must still give certain notices to invoke those rights.  For example, if it was a situation that the landlord had the ability to fix, then you were required to give the landlord notice of the condition before you left.  There are other factors which could justify the breaking of a lease.  The how you broke the lease is just as important as why you broke it in order to invoke a defense to the payment of future rent.  Here is a link to your state's website which discusses dealing with damages and how to move out:    http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/index.shtml

You may have had additional remedies in your lease.  After reviewing this site and your lease, consider arranging for a consultation with a consumer law attorney to discuss your case and to work through all of your potential defenses.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Assuming you have documentation showing that your rental was not safe for habitation you have a factual basis to fight the collection action against you. It would have been a better tactic to have had the local health department come in and cite the unit. If so, then you would have been in a better position to fight the action.

Note, under the laws of all states in this country the landlord is obligated to mitigate his or her damages as to your lease. If the landlord has rented out the unit again that you occupied, you can claim as an offset the rent paid by the new tenant for the duration of the lease's time you had to reduce any amount that you might owe. Under the law, the landlord does not get double rent.


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