If you want to leave your apartment but are bound by the terms of a lease for months or years, you may be frustrated with how difficult it can be to get out of lease without suffering some financial consequences.
That said, there are ways to break a lease. One option is to raise a claim of breach of quiet enjoyment and constructive eviction, which occurs when a landlord fails to make property habitable.
Elements of a constructive eviction claim
Landlords are required by law to uphold the warrant of habitability. This means they must keep the property safe and livable by making certain repairs and providing certain utilities.
However, it is important to note that your landlord is not responsible for the conditions that you create yourself.
An apartment might have an insect infestation, no hot water or serious mold problems. These can all create unsafe conditions and a landlord must take steps to remedy them. If he or she does not, tenants may have grounds to break the lease.
Proceeding with constructive eviction cautiously
If you believe your landlord is subjecting you to uninhabitable conditions in your apartment, do not just move out and assume you no longer have to pay rent. You could wind up being wrong and having to pay more than just unpaid rent.
Instead, you should carefully document the conditions and any attempts at getting the landlord to make repairs. You can also request an inspection to have violations verified.
Once you have sufficient evidence of severe, uninhabitable conditions that essentially force you to move out, you must move out of at least part of your apartment, if not all before raising a claim of breach of quiet enjoyment or constructive eviction. There is the risk that the courts may not agree with the alleged warranty of habitability violation, so it is always better to consult an attorney before moving out before the end of your lease. If you are not successful with your claim, you could be liable for the rent due on the balance of the lease.
Breaking a lease is not a decision to make lightly. However, when your safety and health are at risk because of a negligent landlord, it may be your best option.