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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 23839
Experience:  14 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 24+ yrs
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Hi, Im in San Diego Ca and I have a question in regard to

Resolved Question:

Hi, I'm in San Diego Ca and I have a question in regard to "breaking" a lease. I rent a house bordered on all but one side by apartments. Unfortunately, since I've been leasing the house (just over 1 year) I've had multiple problems in regard to noise with one set of apartments neighbors. I've spoken about it on numerous occasions with my landlord and she's tried to help but her efforts have been in vain. There are dogs that bark ALL day long (I work at night so it's while I'm trying to sleep), my immediate neighbor has almost daily jam sessions with his stereo, very loud and disturbing arguments with his girlfriend and apparently, that same neighbor is also a drug dealer. Last week, I was forced to listen to a 2 day argument about how the neighbor and his lady friend would be splitting up their "merchandise," and what was finally the last straw for me was seeing, as I was leaving for work one night last week, a man standing on the apts. side of the fence just outside my open kitchen window smoking... I'm not sure what but I'm pretty sure it wasn't legal because he ran as soon as he saw me see him.

I don't think there's a whole lot my landlord can do about the situation as these troublesome neighbors are NOT her tenants but I've had it. I need to move. I very rarely get more than a few hours uninterrupted sleep and the presence of drugs right next door (or anywhere close, for that matter) are deal breakers! I work for the military and am subject to random urinalysis so I'm not willing to take the chance that these neighbors bad habits could impact me and potentially ruin my career.

Do I have justification to break my lease?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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Are you currently under a written lease for a set term or are you month to month?
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Is there anything wrong with the house that would make it uninhabitable (other than the apt dwellers)?
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Have you talked to the landlord about terminating your tenancy?
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Thanks
Barrister
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I'm on a lease, not a month to month. The lease, as of May 2012 is for 2 years.


 


The only thing that I can think of that might make the property uninhabitable is that there is a HUGE fly problem. The house has no air conditioning so I have to keep doors/windows open during the summer. The screens do not fit the front windows of the house properly so there's really no way to keep the flies out completely.


 


When I moved in the house WAS uninhabitable due to a severe roach infestation but I was uninformed of my rights and thought that because I'd signed the lease and paid the deposit, I had to take the house as is. When I tried to get my landlord to help pay for the costs of pest control, she refused and I got stuck with the bill.


 


I have spoken with her, via e-mail, and requested that she renegotiate my lease down to a year or to a month-to-month tenancy so that I can move as soon as possible. Her response was to offer me another property in a similarly run down area. I thanked her, turned that offer down and repeated my request to renegotiate the lease term. I have not received a response and do not expect to receive one.

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the additional information. I hate to give bad news in a situation like this, but it doesn't sound like there is anything that would rise to the level of breaching the "implied warranty of habitability" in every lease and give you legal grounds to terminate. As you know, the landlord is not responsible for the neighbors or neighborhood problems. Although the fly problem might be a nuisance, it wouldn't rise to the level of making the property uninhabitable. The landlord has a duty to provide a dwelling that meets all minimum code and housing ordinances, but that is about it.
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Unfortunately, there is not any type of "hardship" escape clause in a lease unless it was specifically stated in the lease. If you are under a written lease for a set term, then if you break the lease, the landlord can potentially hold you liable for up to the entire remaining term of the lease. If the neighborhood situation has changed, it would not give you legal grounds to get out of the lease without any repercussions.

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However, if you decided to breach, the landlord has a duty to mitigate her damages by attempting to re-rent the unit as soon as possible. Once she does so, she can only hold you liable for her actual damages in the form of any lost rent and advertising costs. So if it takes her 1 or 2 months to rent it again, she can only hold you liable for that lost rent plus any advertising costs. The law seeks to put the non-breaching party in the same position they would have been in but for the breach.

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So to minimize your potential liability, if you have to breach, make sure you leave the place as close to spotless as you can so the landlord can immediately put it on the market and hopefully rent it quickly.

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Further, even though she could sue you for any lost rent, if she can't find you and you didn't leave a forwarding address, it is very difficult to sue someone.

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As an aside, I have been a landlord for over 24 years and typically don't bother suing tenants as it is too time consuming tracking them down...

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Thanks.

Barrister

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If you need further help, just reply to me via the “REPLY” button and I will be happy to continue.

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I cannot enter into an attorney client relationship, this is a public forum, and all posts are available for public viewing. There is no duty of confidentiality that attaches to any posts. The information provided is not a substitute for a local attorney’s legal advice.

 

Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 23839
Experience: 14 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 24+ yrs
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