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Breaking Lease Due to Termites

A lease agreement is a legal document that binds both the landlord and the tenant. However, there are ways a tenant can break a lease without facing penalties.

When Can I Break My Lease?

These are some of the situations where a tenant can break a lease.

  • When it is allowed by law: Some laws allow tenants to break a lease. For instance the Service Members Civil Relief Act allows people who are enlisted in the military to break a lease in case they get called for active duty.
  • When the rental property becomes inhabitable: This can occur due to natural disasters like an earthquake or a tornado. It could also be due to artificial conditions that render the property inhabitable.
  • When the landlord breaks the terms of lease: Landlord-tenant laws list a number of obligations the landlord has to comply with. These include maintaining the property and respecting the tenant's right to quiet enjoyment and privacy. If your landlord breaks any of these obligations, then you may break the lease.
  • When the lease provides: If the lease has an early termination clause, then you can break the lease before the lease term ends.

Can I Break My Lease Due to Termites?

It depends. You may break your lease if the living conditions are inhabitable. Accordingly, you must show the termites are significantly affecting your ability to live and make use of your rental property.

In addition, you have to first give notice to the landlord and give them the opportunity to address the problem before you break the lease.

Constructive Eviction?

Constructive eviction occurs when the rental premise becomes extremely inhabitable that the tenant is forced to leave. This means it is impossible for the tenant to stay on the premise, and hence is constructively evicted by the landlord.

In order for you to have a constructive eviction claim, you have to show the following:

  • The landlord neglected a duty he/she owes to you
  • As a result of the neglect, the place has become inhabitable
  • You gave notice to the landlord to fix the issue, and
  • You left the premise within a reasonable time

If you fulfill the above requirements, you may be able to terminate your lease with no penalty.

You Have Other Options

A constructive eviction claim can be a bit risky as you have to actually vacate the premises before you file the claim. There are, however, other alternatives that you can take to remedy the situation if your landlord refuses to address the termite problem. These include:

  • Hire a professional to handle the termite problem and withhold rent or put it in an escrow until a court gives a decision
  • Withhold rent until the landlord fixes the problem

States have different landlord-tenant laws. Make sure to research the laws before you take any action.

Additional Resources

Consult an Attorney If You Need Help Terminating Your Lease

If termites infest your rental premise, the landlord is obligated to address it. You may also be able to break your lease depending on how severe the situation is. Consult a landlord-tenant attorney to learn more about your options and the legal recourses you can take.

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Next Steps

Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help you navigate any landlord-tenant issues.

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