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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33802
Experience:  15 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I want to know my legal standing to break a rental lease due

Customer Question

I want to know my legal standing to break a rental lease due to management disrespect, poor repairs to the property, etc.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 11 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes and ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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Are all these issues currently occurring or have some been fixed?

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Is the roof still leaking and mold present?

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Have you send written notice of the problems to the landlord requesting repairs?

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If so, how long has it been since you made the request?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
The roof that was leaking in the back right corner is no longer leaking. The roof over the garage is now leaking and management and owner have been informed and contractors are coming out tomorrow Tuesday, 1/12. There is still mold in the bathroom where the fan has not been replaced, the management and owner have been informed about this for a long time, both by email and verbally and nothing has been done to replace the fan and duct it properly (it was only putting humid air into the attic!). Another safety issue was the oil furnace not being serviced at all the 1st year (2014) we where there and when serviced in 2015 it needed lots of repair and cleaning, service tech says it was VERY DANGEROUS! Reports show it had not been serviced for 3 years! It had so much soot it could have caught fire! One of the replaced doors, last June/July, can be pushed open even with the handle locked! We where robbed!
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
We are moving soon and only want to pay Feb rent, get our deposit back and not have to pay for March or April - lease is over at the end of April.
Expert:  Barrister replied 11 months ago.

Ok, the landlord has a legal duty to provide a "habitable" dwelling that meets all Code and housing ordinances.

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But if there were problems that have been corrected, then those can't be used as grounds to terminate the lease due to the landlord violating your contractual rights. It has to be a current problem that affects the habitability of the dwelling that the landlord has notice of and hasn't repaired in a reasonable time.

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So anything that was broken or needed repairs, but now doesn't, can't be used as grounds to terminate.

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But if there is mold that hasn't been remediated, or doors that do not lock properly so as to provide a secure dwelling, those would be current issues that affect the habitability and you could use those.

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Uder Maryland law, MD 8-211 it states that you can either pay rent into the court or sue the landlord to make repairs, but it doesn't state that you can terminate the lease.

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(g) In order to employ the remedies provided by this section, the tenant shall notify the landlord of the existence of the defects or conditions. Notice shall be given by (1) a written communication sent by certified mail listing the asserted conditions or defects, or (2) actual notice of the defects or conditions, or (3) a written violation, condemnation or other notice from an appropriate State, county, municipal or local government agency stating the asserted conditions or defects.

(h) The landlord has a reasonable time after receipt of notice in which to make the repairs or correct the conditions. The length of time deemed to be reasonable is a question of fact for the court, taking into account the severity of the defects or conditions and the danger which they present to the occupants. There is a rebuttable presumption that a period in excess of 30 days from receipt of notice is unreasonable.

(i) If the landlord refuses to make the repairs or correct the conditions, or if after a reasonable time the landlord has failed to do so, the tenant may bring an action of rent escrow to pay rent into court because of the asserted defects or conditions, or the tenant may refuse to pay rent and raise the existence of the asserted defects or conditions as an affirmative defense to an action for distress for rent or to any complaint proceeding brought by the landlord to recover rent or the possession of the leased premises.

(j) (1) Whether the issue of rent escrow is raised affirmatively or defensively, the tenant may request one or more of the forms of relief set forth in this section.

(2) In addition to any other relief sought, if within 90 days after the court finds that the conditions complained of by the tenant exist the landlord has not made the repairs or corrected the conditions complained of, the tenant may file a petition of injunction in the District Court requesting the court to order the landlord to make the repairs or correct the conditions.

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So you can stop paying rent and withhold it and then use that as a defense if he tried to evict you, or you can sue the landlord for an order to repair things.

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thanks

Barrister

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