Landlord-Tenant

Ask a landlord-tenant lawyer and get answers ASAP

Ask a Lawyer,
Get an Answer ASAP!

A couple of my tenants in DC broke their lease pretexting the…

Customer Question
A couple of my tenants...
A couple of my tenants in DC broke their lease pretexting the apartment was inhabitable because of mice. There were mice, but not presenting as severe a problem as they claimed. Their lease is up in May, and they vacated on Feb 17 paying only for 17 days instead of the full month rent of $2400.00. In addition they left damaged walls and floors, for which repairs are estimated over $2600. I want to know if I am within my rights as a landlord to claim for the unpaid portion of the Feb rent plus costs of repairs for the damages.
Submitted: 6 years ago.Category: Landlord-Tenant
Show More
Show Less
Ask Your Own Landlord-Tenant Question
Answered in 9 minutes by:
2/27/2012
Lawyer: Ely, Counselor at Law replied 6 years ago
Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 103,583
Experience: Attorney
Verified
Hello and thank you for the opportunity to assist you. Please remember that there might be a delay between your follow ups and my replies because I am typing out my answer, or taking a quick break.

I am sorry for your situation. Under Washington DC's laws, a landlord has a duty to provide habitable apartments or houses and to repair housing code violations. This is called a warranty of habitability, recognized in by DCs circuit (Javins v. First National Realty Corporation, 428 F. 2d 1071 - Court of Appeals, Dist. of Columbia Circuit 1970). The same Court held that if the landlord breaks that warranty, the tenant may move out without paying and not be held liable for the lease.

The warranty of habitability is both in statutory law and common law. In sum, it demands that the apartment is habitable. According to the DC Housing Code, insects such as roaches, ants, water bugs, etc. are prohibited. However, if they appear, does this void the lease under the warranty of habitability, automatically?

The statutes or Courts give no clear answer. Therefore, it is a subjective matter. Either party may take the issue to Court and the Judge would decide based on the following factors:

-was the infestation cased by the tenants' lack of cleanliness or the property lacking the proper defenses?
-how long after the tenants complained did the landlord act to stop the infestation?
-did the landlord act?
-did the tenants give the landlord an ultimatum?
-was the season ripe for such an infestation and was such an infestation the norm given the age/condition of the property?

In the end, it is the Judge's decision. Therefore, you can contest the deposit and if they feel that this is an issue, they are free to take it to small claims court and then the Court would decide.

Finally, damages property is indeed deductible from the deposit. Anything beyond natural wear and tear is. Make sure to take photographs to have proof aside from just your word that illustrate the reasonable deductions.

I hope you found my answer helpful, and if so please do not forget to click ACCEPT. This is the only way for me to get credit for my work – I receive no credit for my time with you unless you actually press ACCEPT, even if you already have a subscription. If you need more information, please use the REPLY button and I’d be more than happy to answer to your satisfaction. There is no fee for follow up questions before or after accepting, if we continue the conversation. If you feel that I went an extra step to help you, a bonus in the form of another accept or an “add on” (available after you accept) is truly appreciated. You can always link to my profile for another question at a later time:

http://www.justanswer.com/law/expert-elyJD/
Ask Your Own Landlord-Tenant Question
Was this answer helpful?

How JustAnswer works

step-image
Describe your issueThe assistant will guide you
step-image
Chat 1:1 with a lawyerLicensed Experts are available 24/7
step-image
100% satisfaction guaranteeGet all the answers you need
Ask Ely Your Own Question
Ely
Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 103,583
103,583 Satisfied Customers
Experience: Attorney

Ely is online now

A new question is answered every 9 seconds

How JustAnswer works:

  • Ask an ExpertExperts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional AnswerVia email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction GuaranteeRate the answer you receive.

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises!

Gary B.Edmond, OK

My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer.

EricRedwood City, CA

I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight.

MichaelWichita, KS

PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent.

Three H.Houston, TX

Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!!

ElaineAtlanta, GA

It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem.

TonyApopka, FL

Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help.

Mary C.Freshfield, Liverpool, UK

< Previous | Next >

Meet the Experts:

Thomas McJD

Thomas McJD

Lawyer

46 satisfied customers

Landlord-Tenant Law Expert

LegalWiseNC

LegalWiseNC

Attorney

0 satisfied customers

Licensed Attorney in North Carolina.

barristerinky

barristerinky

Attorney

4,430 satisfied customers

Attorney over 17 years, landlord 26 years

Infolawyer

Infolawyer

Attorney

2,264 satisfied customers

Experience representing landlords and tenants.

Dimitry K., Esq.

Dimitry K., Esq.

Attorney

1,379 satisfied customers

Licensed in multiple jurisdictions. Experienced Landlord-Tenant attorney.

Ely

Ely

Counselor at Law

103,583 satisfied customers

Attorney

LawTalk

LawTalk

Attorney

1,055 satisfied customers

I have handled Real Estate and Landlord Tenant matters for more than two decades.

< Previous | Next >

Related Landlord-Tenant Questions
I am having an issue with my Landlord. Nebraska Syaye Sorry,
I broke my lease because of mice issue I saw mice in my apartement and that scare my daughter to death. … read more
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
13,941 satisfied customers
I rent. When I rented the apartment on the ground floor I
I rent. When I rented the apartment on the ground floor I notified the landlord that the building was defective. The subflooring is so loose the boards creak and crack at every step throughout. The ow… read more
Phillips Esq.
Phillips Esq.
Attorney
JD
20,454 satisfied customers
My apartment has mold. It is visible at the bottom from a
My apartment has mold. It is visible at the bottom from a roof leak that has been fixed. My apartment is half of a duplex. It was recently sold. I made the new landlords aware of the mold in my bedroo… read more
TaxAttorneytoHelp
TaxAttorneytoHelp
Owner
Doctoral Degree
2,542 satisfied customers
The Apartment owner sent a notice that they will report 4300
The Apartment owner sent a notice that they will report 4300 dollars to my credit beuro If I do not make them payment. I sent them video of mice running all over and had told their maintenance guy to … read more
CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
8,845 satisfied customers
I signed 12 months lease on Nov 14th 2014 and vacated
I signed 12 months lease on Nov 14th 2014 and vacated apartment on Feb 28th 2015 Paid all rents till the date, I broke the lease because Mice problem. Mice were everywhere, we also took video and sent… read more
CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
8,845 satisfied customers
what happens if I quit paying my rent because the landlord
what happens if I quit paying my rent because the landlord wont fix the plumbing the floors the heater the electrical outlets the front and side doors the ceiling because of the leaking pipes plus we … read more
lucy7368
lucy7368
Juris Doctor
763 satisfied customers
I had a 6 month lease on an apartment? I had to terminate
I had a 6 month lease on an apartment? I had to terminate the lease but was on good standing. Right before termination, there was a serious leak coming through the bedroom window running down the wall… read more
lucy7368
lucy7368
Juris Doctor
763 satisfied customers
On Friday Jan. 16, 2015 a hot water line broke under the kitchen floor and we had water al
On Friday Jan. 16, 2015 a hot water line broke under the kitchen floor and we had water all over the kitchen and living room. We called the apartment Manager Saturday Jan. 17, a plumber made lots of h… read more
barristerinky
barristerinky
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
4,430 satisfied customers
Hello, My husband and I moved out of our apartment in July
Hello, My husband and I moved out of our apartment in July from Annapolis Berkshire apartments. When I handed the keys in , I was told by the manager of the buildings there would be nothing due. He al… read more
Law Pro
Law Pro
Doctoral Degree
19,000 satisfied customers
Apartment Townhome Complex - 64 units. My neighbors (below
Apartment Townhome Complex - 64 units. My neighbors (below us) discovered MUSHROOMS growing out of their bathroom wall. Our bathroom is above there's. The landlord (manager) has told us that the plumb… read more
TaxAttorneytoHelp
TaxAttorneytoHelp
Owner
Doctoral Degree
2,542 satisfied customers
I had a tenant that broke her lease in December 2013. It clearly
I had a tenant that broke her lease in December 2013. It clearly states in her lease that she was to be responsible for any clogs in the plumbing and she had been flushing these large sheets of cleani… read more
Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq.
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
1,379 satisfied customers
Can I deduct money from the security deposit for nails, velcro,
Can I deduct money from the security deposit for nails, velcro, and 4 coats of paint? The walls were a complete mess. Also, water damage from the shower onto the wood floor. Tile in the bathroom stain… read more
MDLaw
MDLaw
Attorney
Post-Doctoral Degree
358 satisfied customers
My husband and I are renting a 4 bedroom 2.5 bath home. We
My husband and I are renting a 4 bedroom 2.5 bath home. We moved in Aug 17. The master bathroom shower leaked through the floor into the foyer. It is ripped apart (3 walls and floor of the shower and … read more
barristerinky
barristerinky
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
4,430 satisfied customers
I rented this house about 5 years ago. it is in deplorable
I rented this house about 5 years ago. it is in deplorable condition. me and my partner told the landlord about problems as they arose. He then informed me of the back wall falling off the house. I al… read more
TaxAttorneytoHelp
TaxAttorneytoHelp
Owner
Doctoral Degree
2,542 satisfied customers
How do I get my security deposit back? The landlord has leased
How do I get my security deposit back? The landlord has leased the property again. She still did not get a rental license in DC or anywhere. She will not return my deposit!… read more
lucy7368
lucy7368
Juris Doctor
763 satisfied customers
I own a rowhouse in DC, although I live out of state. I desire
I own a rowhouse in DC, although I live out of state. I desire to keep the home in excellent condition, this means I update regularly (new kitchen, floors, etc within the last 3-5 years). I also respo… read more
Troy7141
Troy7141
In-house Counsel
Juris Doctor
78 satisfied customers
I rent an apartment in Florida. The roof is being repaired
I rent an apartment in Florida. The roof is being repaired and during the course of this repair we had a rain storm. Water leaked through the unprotected roof causing significant water damage to my ap… read more
Phillips Esq.
Phillips Esq.
Attorney
JD
20,454 satisfied customers
I moved into a rental property a little over 4 months ago at
I moved into a rental property a little over 4 months ago at the beginning of February. I have one house cat, who never steps a foot outside or even onto the enclosed patio. When I was shown the apart… read more
KUMI95
KUMI95
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
17 satisfied customers

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

Show MoreShow Less

Ask Your Question

x