How to Break a Rental Lease for Unlivable Conditions

You can break your lease if your apartment is not safe and the landlord takes no action to correct the issues.

Moving into a new apartment or house can be stressful. Between deposits, leases and hooking up utilities, there's a lot to do. If moving in reveals a few surprises that you didn't notice during the tour – or if the conditions in your home have changed since you moved in and it is no longer habitable – you can break the lease after following certain regulations. Most states have minimum standards for rental housing. Research the housing standards in your area to prove that your property is unlivable.

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Step 1

Take photographs of the conditions that make your apartment unlivable. Reasonable conditions for breaking a lease include: toxic mold, flood damage, fire damage or holes in the ceiling or floor.

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Step 2

Contact your landlord and ask for a meeting. Bring the photographs and ask what she intends to do to resolve the situation. Depending on the state, she may have time to correct the problems. If she fails to act, explain that you intend to break your lease because the property isn't suitable for human habitation.

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Step 3

Allow a third party -- the person depends on the property code of your state -- to inspect the rental and determine whether it is habitable. This is only necessary if your landlord disputes the condition of the property. If the property is deemed uninhabitable, the landlord has to follow the state property code -- which is specific to every state -- and let you out of your lease. You can usually find a copy of the state property code online.

Step 4

Contact your local housing authority and ask for a meeting if your landlord refuses to let you out of the lease and the conditions still seem unlivable to you. Bring pictures of the property and a copy of your lease to the meeting. Request the agency's guidance in getting out of the lease.

Step 5

You may be able to reduce your rent payment until the severe habitation conditions are corrected.

Things You'll Need

  • Photographs

  • Lease copy

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