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David Coleman
David Coleman, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 1105
Experience:  BEc(SocSci). LLB (Usyd) - 5 years of Work Experience
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Is it possible to break the lease without penalty

Customer Question

My neighbors downstairs are contstantly complaining about my pet but the complaints have not be substantiated. I''ve done everything I can to mitigate the situation and its not working. I no longer feel comfortable or safe in my environment. Today there is even a tape recorder in plain site of their apartment window. When I mentioned to the property management company that I wanted to break my lease she indicated that I would have to pay the penalty for breaking the lease. Is it possible to break the lease without penalty?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  David Coleman replied 8 years ago.

Dear Sir,

Under the law of your state, the land lord has a responsbility to maintain and repair the property. If you read through the law which governs the rights of landlords and tenants here: ou will see that there are a number of obligations on th landlord to maintain and repair the property so that it is habitable. You will also see the obligations that are placed on you as a result of being a tenant. Although under the legislation, what you are planning might not be termed 'breaking' a lease and may be termed 'abondonment' instead (I have attached the relevant section below), the landlord will have to find a new tenant as a result of your departure and this will create a problem for them, but as you can see under the legislation, it appears that this is basically their problem. Abandonment is usually determined by the time when the person stops paying rent and utilities. I hope that this information is helpful.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.





SECTION 27-40-730. Remedies for absence, nonuse, and abandonment.

(a) The unexplained absence of a tenant from a dwelling unit for a period of fifteen days after default in the payment of rent must be construed as abandonment of the dwelling unit.

(b) If the tenant has voluntarily terminated the utilities and there is an unexplained absence of a tenant after default in payment of rent, abandonment is considered immediate and the fifteen day rule as described in (a) does not apply.

(c) If the tenant abandons the dwelling unit, the landlord shall make reasonable efforts to rent it at a fair rental. If the landlord rents the dwelling unit for a term beginning before the expiration of the rental agreement, it terminates as of the date of the new tenancy, subject to the landlord's remedies under Section 27-40-740. If the landlord fails to use reasonable efforts to rent the dwelling unit at a fair rental or if the landlord accepts the abandonment as a surrender, the rental agreement is considered to be terminated by the landlord as of the date the landlord has notice of the abandonment. If the tenancy is from month to month or week to week, the term of the rental agreement for this purpose is considered to be a month or a week, as the case may be.

(d) When a dwelling unit has been abandoned or the rental agreement has come to an end and the tenant has removed a substantial portion of his property or voluntarily and permanently terminated his utilities and has left personal property in the dwelling unit or on the premises with a fair-market value of five hundred dollars or less, the landlord may enter the dwelling unit, using forcible entry if required, and dispose of the property.

(e) When a dwelling unit has been abandoned or the rental agreement has come to an end and the tenant has left personal property in the dwelling unit or on the premises in the cases not covered by subsection (d) above, the landlord may have the property removed only pursuant to the provisions of Sections 27-37-10 to 27-37-150.

(f) Where property is disposed of by the landlord pursuant to subsection (d) and the property was in excess of five hundred dollars, the landlord is not liable unless the landlord was grossly negligent.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I'm sorry. This response did not answer my question. I am trying to legitimately get out of my lease due to safety and what I feel is harrassment by the neighbors downstairs and looking to determine if this is possible.

Thank you.
Expert:  David Coleman replied 8 years ago.
Dear Sir,

I am sorry, I should have been more direct, there are two ways that you can legally break a lease in South Carolina:


1) Terms of Contract

An apartment lease is a contract between a South Carolina landlord and a tenant. These are known as the terms or conditions of the agreement. One way that an apartment lease can legally be broken is if the landlord puts any conditions in the lease that take away the tenant’s rights under the South Carolina Residential-Landlord Tenant Act. THe lease can also be broken if the landlord does not keep up their end of the bargain. A local magistrate can determine disputes where this is the case.

2) Apartment Repairs, Noise Complaints And Other Problems

The landlord is required to keep the apartment in good condition, and all the systems and appliances within—including plumbing, the air conditioning, and the furnace. You must give the landlord written notice of the problems and warn him or her that if the problems are not fixed in 14 days or within a reasonable time (state the amount of time), you will move. If the landlord still does not make repairs, you can move and will no longer owe him or her any more rent. He or she must still return your security deposit if there are no reasons to hold it. Again, if you have the proper documentation which has been used to notify the landlord, a local magistrate can break the lease and even force the landlord to pay for your court costs or other damages.

If you would like formal legal advice, I think this is the closest law firm specialising in landlord-tenant law:

Lumpkin, Oxner & Stacy, P.A.
Address: 511 Prince Street
Georgetown, SC 29442
Map & Directions
Phone: (843)(NNN) NNN-NNNNbr />
Fax: (843)(NNN) NNN-NNNN/span>


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