How can I terminate my lease without penalties? 7 Answers as of August 10, 2011

My apartment is infested with bedbugs. The office is not taking care of the situation properly. I would like to move out, but they want me to pay a cancellation fee of 4 months worth of rent!

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Law Offices of John J. Ferry, Jr.
Law Offices of John J. Ferry, Jr. | John J. Ferry, Jr.
There's a procedure by which you can post your rent payments to the prothonotary until the landlord fixes the issue. In the alternative, you could simply move out without paying the cancellation fee. If you do that, be prepared to defend a claim for rent from the landlord by presenting evidence that the apartment was uninhabitable due to the infestation.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 7/28/2011
The Grundy Law Firm, PLLC
The Grundy Law Firm, PLLC | Elvin Grundy
Security deposits cannot exceed one and a half times the monthly rent. The fact that they are withholding more than 4 months of rent as a security is illegal in Arizona under ARS 33-1321(A).
Answer Applies to: Arizona
Replied: 7/28/2011
Law Office of Jared Altman
Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
Check your lease. Who is responsible for keeping the apartment free of vermin and infestation? Sometimes it's the tenant. It can cost a lot of money to remedy a bed bug infestation. Do you know how the bugs got there? Were they there when you moved in? Then the landlord should pay. Did you bring them in? Then, if the lease says so, you should clean up the problem. If you don't know or can't tell, then you'll have to follow the lease. Whoever the lease says is responsible has to clean up the mess. But your question is deeper than that. Can the landlord charge you four months' rent for moving out early? No. Not really. The rule is in a residential lease if the tenant leaves early then the landlord is required to find a new tenant for the space. If the landlord is then made whole, he cannot pursue the tenant. If there is a shortfall, then the tenant is responsible to make up the shortfall until the end of the tenant's term. But he has to sue you for and then collect. Don't just pay him the money. You can always negotiate it down if he comes after you.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 7/28/2011
Frances R. Johnson
Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
Take a copy of your lease to an attorney or legal aid organization who should be able to give you some direction. This question cannot be answered without looking at the lease.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 7/28/2011
The Coyle Law Office
The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
If possible, take pictures of the bedbugs or of any other evidence of the infestation. Send notice to the landlord through certified mail that you find the apartment to be inhabitable and you are giving them 30 days to fix the situation and that, if they do not, you will be moving out and expecting return of your security deposit. The landlord may not go along and this may end up in court, so you want to make sure you document everything with pictures and certified mailings.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 7/28/2011
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