Can my daughter legally break the lease and ask for her money back? 5 Answers as of August 17, 2011

My daughter and 4 year old granddaughter moved into a slum of a house that has many structural issues on top of the front door deadbolt not locking, no pull up lever on the shower (not usable as a shower), the garage has broken glass, nails and is ready to fall down, no screens on the windows and most importantly, boards missing from the top of the house where bats, rodents and whatever else could be in the attic, which is their ceiling. None of these conditions were disclosed to them during the quickie walk thru. Also, they verbally agreed to a 3 month lease but the leasing company changed the contract to a year. There might also be lead paint in the house....we are not sure. This house is ready to fall down. They sent a certified letter to the owner stating all of this and stating they want out of the lease with no repercussions and they want their money back. In the lease, it says that structural issues must be disclosed to the tenant.....they did not do this!!! My daughter is calling the building inspector and health inspector for our city. The owner said they won't fix the structure until maybe November. This is a dangerous place for them to live. Can she legally break the lease and get her money back? Thanks for any help you can give me.. Oh, this slumlord owns many other rentals in this same kind of condition.

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Law Office of Jared Altman
Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
If the premises is not habitable then she can lawfully break the lease and obtain a refund of her rent. The issuance of code violations by the inspector would help her claim.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 8/7/2011
Palumbo and Kosofsky
Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
My daughter and 4 year old granddaughter moved into a slum of a house that has many structural issues on top of the front door deadbolt not locking, no pull up lever on the shower (not usable as a shower), the garage has broken glass, nails and is ready to fall down, no screens on the windows and most importantly, boards missing from the top of the house where bats, rodents and whatever else could be in the attic, which is their ceiling. Sounds like a breach of the implied warranty of habitability. None of these conditions were disclosed to them during the quickie walk thru. But she inspected the place so unless it was actively concealed then it was disclosed. It is not the landlord's fault that the tenant did not see broken glass, no screens, missing locks, boards missing from the ceiling (how does someone not see that), and a door that does not lock. Also, they verbally agreed to a 3 month lease but the leasing company changed the contract to a year. The verbal agreement means nothing - if she did not want a year she should not have signed the contract. There might also be lead paint in the house....we are not sure. Then have it inspected. house is ready to fall down. Then get out - safety first! This house is ready to fall down. They sent a certified letter to the owner stating all of this and stating they want out of the lease with no repercussions and they want their money back. For the period of time they were living there they are not going to get their money back it would be fundamentally unfair. In the lease, it says that structural issues must be disclosed to the tenant.....they did not do this!!! Yes they did by giving her access to the unit and she did an inspection - if she did not notice it that is not on the landlord. My daughter is calling the building inspector and health inspector for our city. Good! This is a dangerous place for them to live. Can she legally break the lease and get her money back? I am not sure - I don't think it would be legal to do that but nonetheless whether or not all of these things were disclosed if it is uninhabitable she should be able to leave without being on the hook for a money judgment for unpaid rent GOING FORWARD; but for the time she was living there she cannot get her money back - maybe an offset but not all of it returned. Oh, this slumlord owns many other rentals in this same kind of condition. Irrelevant.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 8/5/2011
Frances R. Johnson
Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
If the house is as dangerous as you state, your daughter should put her and her daughter's safety first, and worry about attempting to get her money back later. If the landlord refuses to return what I'm assuming is the security deposit, the property truly is inhabitable, and she did not sign the lease AFTER she already saw the condition of the home, she can look into suing the landlord for the return of the deposit. Depending upon the amount of money your daughter is seeking to have returned, she may be able to pursue the issue in small claims court. You can obtain information about filing a small claims lawsuit from the clerk's office of the county courthouse where the property is located. Aside from that, she may want to get in contact with her local Legal Aid/Legal Services to see if free attorney representation may be available to her.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 8/5/2011
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