General Question

eadinad's avatar

Can I get out of my lease?

Asked by eadinad (1278points) June 23rd, 2008

I got a year long lease for an apartment in January. Shortly after moving in, the ceiling in the kitchen started leaking – we notified the property manager and he had someone (the on-site handyman, not a qualified professional) do something that temporarily fixed it. But then it began leaking again (ten days ago), we notified them, and they did nothing. So the ceiling collapsed and there is a 2.5 foot hole in the kitchen. They now replaced the pipe but we still have that huge hole, for which they expect us to wait 2 to 6 weeks to fix. Also, the ceiling in the bedroom is now leaking, and they don’t seem to think that’s a problem either/haven’t made any plans to fix it.

Not to mention the fact that they apparently had no air conditioning units installed until just this May, even though they told us they had put in new energy efficient units when we signed our lease.

Short story, I don’t feel like I signed up for this, I don’t want to deal with one or possibly two holes in my ceiling for weeks, and I am tired of them lying to us and not working quickly to solve pretty important problems.

Anyone know if I am justified in trying to break my lease? Or anyone (gov. agency or something) that I can call and ask for advice on what to do?


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10 Answers

playthebanjo's avatar should be able to get out of it if it is a standard lease. Call your local municipal housing department and tell them what is up. At the least you could have your landlord cited for unlivable conditions or something.

kevbo's avatar

Your residence should be habitable as a condition of the lease. Local laws vary. Call your local landlord-tenant hotline.

jrpowell's avatar

It is time to get on the phone. Local laws vary and without knowing what city you live in it is hard to know who you need to talk to. I would see if you have any form of “legal aid” in your city. They should know your local laws and it is usually free.

Personally, I would be outraged and be using a homemade trebuchet to fling burning bags of poo at the landlords house. Breaking the lease is justified in my mind. I would talk to a lawyer before assuming it won’t hose your credit.

andrew's avatar

Also, you have to make sure that your notices to your landlord are in writing—otherwise you haven’t given him/her notice.

eadinad's avatar

@ playthebanjo and kevbo:

how do I find contact information for the local munincipal housing department and/or landlord tenant hotlines? i assume i can google them somehow but i’m lost as to how to start. i’ve looked through the HUD website but haven’t found anything helpful.

@ johnpowell – we’re in kansas city, mo. any suggestions for how to look up the legal aid you’re talking about?

@ andrew – thanks for the tip. we’ll do that from now on. we do have pictures.

playthebanjo's avatar

Try these folks:

Dangerous Buildings and Vacant Property Operations Division
Neighborhood and Community Services Department Location
2534 Prospect Ave.
Kansas City, MO 64127
Phone: (816) 784–4023

playthebanjo's avatar

These folks might be even better:
Neighborhood and Community Services Department
Location: 4900 Swope Parkway, fourth floor
Phone: (816) 513–9010
Fax: (816) 513–9090

The Neighborhood Preservation Division of the Neighborhood and Community Services Department is responsible for enforcing the City’s nuisance code and property maintenance code. In providing professional code enforcement services to the citizens, these services help to improve and stabilize neighborhoods, protect property values and promote a healthier and safer environment.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Phone: (816) 513–9010

Amurph's avatar

You can break your lease, but make sure all of your complaints are well documented. Take photos of the damage with the days paper in the shot (proving that the damage cold have happened after that day, but not before – especially not before your moved in).

Then write a letter and send it to the landlord and maintenance company (if you have one), detailing absolutely everything that has happened in your apartment. Save a copy for yourself.

Call your landlord and let him know that if all of the problems are not fixed immediately, that you will be withholding rent until they are (you have a legal right to do this, you are paying for a service, which they refuse to render).

If you get nowhere with them, call the department of housing, or buildings, and the department of health and file a formal complaint. Save the complaint numbers. Start looking for a new apartment.

The bottom line is (and this is for NYC, so check with people in your community), your landlord cannot make your financially liable for the rest of the lease if you break it. They have to first prove that they have tried to fill the apartment. (Oftentimes, landlords don;t even know this.) Give them a months notice on moving out (You can move earlier, but make sure they know when you will be leaving), make sure this notice is also well documented.

In the long run, it makes more financial sense for them to fill the apartment then chase you for money they will never be awarded, because they are breaking your lease by refusing to fix the problem. (Landlords can break leases too!)

Good luck!

faithful's avatar

every landlord is bound by certain rules. which is the house/apt. must be liveable. unfixed leaking and holes make it unliveable. start taking pictures! everything that you find wrong that has not been fixed or could lead to further damage that you haven’t caused. this is your evidence. try to get a few snaps of the same pictures at different angles.

most landlords move really fast with a lawsuit and fines on their butt.

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