General Question

russ_utsa's avatar

Breaking lease due to unsafe conditions?

Asked by russ_utsa (19points) March 24th, 2009

Someone was just shot 4 times about 20 yards from my apartment. This is the second occurrence of a gun shot heard in the past week. I don’t feel safe living here and want to move out. Is it legal to break my lease? I live in Texas.

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5 Answers

samaurikitten's avatar

Its legal to break a lease…but you might end up having to pay your rent for the duration of the lease or until the landlord finds new renters, depending on what your lease states. If ur landlord is relatively a decent person, he / she would probably understand and help you ease out of it in a way that is good for both of you. If your landlord sucks, you could always take them to court to release you from the lease. Any judge would understand the situation. Good luck!

funkdaddy's avatar

Unfortunately you’re still responsible for the lease. I’m not a real estate lawyer, but my understanding is that you would need to prove the space itself was unsafe (inadequate locks, unsafe air, no way to heat or cool the space, etc) to even start down the road of legally breaking your lease without penalty. And even then you don’t just move out, you need to give the landlord time to fix the problems.

I researched breaking my lease in Austin a couple years ago after my car was broken into for the fourth time in a year. Everyone I spoke to said it wasn’t an accepted reason to break the lease without penalty.

The good news is that you can speak to the landlord or company that runs the place and they may be understanding. If not, and if you have several months left on the lease, you may want to read your lease closely to see what they reletting costs are for your apartment. Usually it’s some portion of a month’s rent, plus a penalty. You may also be able to sublease your space or make a deal with the apartments if you can find someone to start living there immediately. I would go in and explain the situation, then ask your options. Remember they’re running a business, even if it is very personal for you.

If you want to read more about your options with a lease, try a search for “renter’s rights Texas” and you’ll get quite a few options. I’ve pasted a few below.

Texas Bar Tenant’s Rights
Texas Tenant Advisor

A quick excerpt from the link above, that probably addresses your situation most closely…


My apartment was just burglarized and I’ve lost a good deal of my belongings and am suffering emotional anguish. Can I break my lease without any legal consequences?

No, not if the landlord has done nothing wrong. However, you may have grounds to move early if the landlord misrepresented security or crime concerns and this information influenced your decision to rent the apartment. However, such decisions on misrepresentation are best decided by a court of law.


I’m sorry this happened and good luck finding a solution everyone can live with.

DrBill's avatar

This is considered beyond the control of management, so it is not a viable reason. Talk to the landlord, I often let people move without penalty if they just ask.

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westy81585's avatar

Look up the specific laws in your county/state (someone posted above I believe).

You may be able to break the lease even if your landlord doesn’t want you too (I know here in my county in Ohio you can break the lease if you’ve been burgled 2 or more times in a 6 months period).

But if you talk to the landlord, he may be understanding as it is anyways.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I would say before you know if you have grounds, did you know the neighborhood was as bad crime wise before you moved in? If you did not know, why not, did the subject of criminal activity ever come up, if so what was said about it? If nothing was said, or it was said to be a ”nice neighborhood” and it proves to be anything but. Your only gambit might be to request the landlord improve the safety, add more lights at night, cameras, have bulletproof glass installed on the exterior walls and some type of bullet resistant façade, stating the frequent shootings as reason, and if he/she doesn’t file using that; if there are enough police reports or documented cop activity, you might be able to slither out of the lease because the landlord doesn’t want to go to court, or have the bad press.

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