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Thelawman2
Thelawman2, Lawyer
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 1055
Experience:  Attorney-at-Law
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My husband and I renewed our lease and we came to find out

Customer Question

My husband and I renewed our lease and we came to find out the home were leasing cause serious electrical problems. The electrician stated the house is a fire hazard. We have small children and we fear for our safety. What can we do
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Thelawman2 replied 1 month ago.

You may desire to break your lease because of maintenance or safety issues . In these situations, tenants have certain rights that permit a lease to be broken without financial repercussion. Most states will enable a tenant to break a lease and vacate the premises immediately should the landlord fail to fix a serious maintenance issue or if the apartment, building or complex be in violation of one or more city health codes.

For one of these reasons to be the basis for a tenant breaking a lease there must be proof of the problem. Keep records of the problems and any contact you have had with the landlord or officials that show the seriousness and ongoing nature of the problem. These records will support your needing to break the lease and could be handy should the landlord decide to contest your actions.

However, you must first provide the landlord with an opportunity to fix the problem before you are permitted to break the lease. A landlord must be given reasonable notice to repair or remedy the defects, however, before you can abandon the unit. If problems such as these are not corrected by the landlord in a reasonable amount of time, you may be able to break the lease legally.

As a result of the fire hazard, the landlord has a responsibility to put you into a dwelling that is safe until the electricity is safe. This is because there is an implied warrant of habitability in every lease that requires the property to be safe.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Also I need to know how much of a time frame do we need to give the realty company. They've known about the issue since October 3rd. October is now coming to an end. Also each time we call they keep telling us they're going to get a time from the electrician.
Expert:  Thelawman2 replied 1 month ago.

What state are you located in?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
We are located in Texas. I read the lease agreement and it said the landlord has one week to fix the problem. Well they've had more than a week. Another thing, I am going to need a letter from The realty company stating they're releasing us from the lease in order lease another property?
Expert:  Thelawman2 replied 1 month ago.

f your landlord does not provide habitable housing under local and state housing codes, a court would probably conclude that you have been “constructively evicted;” this means that the landlord, by supplying unlivable housing, has for all practical purposes “evicted” you, so you have no further responsibility for the rent. Texas law (Tex. Prop Code Ann. §§ 92.056, 92.0561) sets specific requirements for the procedures you must follow before moving out because of a major repair problem.

See the following process outlined in the statute cited:

(b) A landlord is liable to a tenant as provided by this subchapter if:

(1) the tenant has given the landlord notice to repair or remedy a condition by giving that notice to the person to whom or to the place where the tenant's rent is normally paid;

(2) the condition materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant;

(3) the tenant has given the landlord a subsequent written notice to repair or remedy the condition after a reasonable time to repair or remedy the condition following the notice given under Subdivision (1) or the tenant has given the notice under Subdivision (1) by sending that notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by registered mail, or by another form of mail that allows tracking of delivery from the United States Postal Service or a private delivery service;

(4) the landlord has had a reasonable time to repair or remedy the condition after the landlord received the tenant's notice under Subdivision (1) and, if applicable, the tenant's subsequent notice under Subdivision (3);

(5) the landlord has not made a diligent effort to repair or remedy the condition after the landlord received the tenant's notice under Subdivision (1) and, if applicable, the tenant's notice under Subdivision (3);  and

(6) the tenant was not delinquent in the payment of rent at the time any notice required by this subsection was given.

(c) For purposes of Subsection (b)(4) or (5), a landlord is considered to have received the tenant's notice when the landlord or the landlord's agent or employee has actually received the notice or when the United States Postal Service has attempted to deliver the notice to the landlord.

(d) For purposes of Subsection (b)(3) or (4), in determining whether a period of time is a reasonable time to repair or remedy a condition, there is a rebuttable presumption that seven days is a reasonable time.  To rebut that presumption, the date on which the landlord received the tenant's notice, the severity and nature of the condition, and the reasonable availability of materials and labor and of utilities from a utility company must be considered.

Expert:  Thelawman2 replied 1 month ago.

After you follow this process, the following remedies are available to you:

(e) Except as provided in Subsection (f), a tenant to whom a landlord is liable under Subsection (b) of this section may:

(1) terminate the lease;

(2) have the condition repaired or remedied according to Section 92.0561;

(3) deduct from the tenant's rent, without necessity of judicial action, the cost of the repair or remedy according to Section 92.0561;  and

(4) obtain judicial remedies according to Section 92.0563.

(f) A tenant who elects to terminate the lease under Subsection (e) is:

(1) entitled to a pro rata refund of rent from the date of termination or the date the tenant moves out, whichever is later;

(2) entitled to deduct the tenant's security deposit from the tenant's rent without necessity of lawsuit or obtain a refund of the tenant's security deposit according to law;  and

(3) not entitled to the other repair and deduct remedies under Section 92.0561 or the judicial remedies underSubdivisions (1) and (2) of Subsection (a) of Section 92.0563.