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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 39028
Experience:  Attorney and Real Estate broker -- Retired (mostly)
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I started my one year lease on January 3, 2013. Within nights

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I started my one year lease on January 3, 2013. Within nights of being in my residence I noticed the abundant amount of excess noise coming from the unit above mine. I have had complained over 23 times due to consistent noise coming from the unit above mine. The noise is above and beyond "normal" apartment noises. The noise consistently wakes up my daughter, and goes long into the leases noted quite hours. The landlord has had talks with the tenants to which the noise is better for a night or two then right back.
In additional have had endless amounts of maintenance requests. Doors not locking, Ac not working the master toilet not flushing, hot water heater turning off, and crackling from light switches. Finally cultivating in a call to the local fire department last week to check crackling switches which had electrical burn smells coming from them as I was told by the maintenance crew that there were no issues. (The fire chief was able to note the issues and stated that I needed to let the landlord know they needed a licensed electrician to inspect not just a handyman).

I would like to know if and how I can get out of my lease legally without having to give the 60 days notices and 1 month of rent they state is needed in the lease agreement. All of the issues I have experience have been well documented, and I believe are above and beyond the usual issues that come with rental living.

Have you contacted your city or county code enforcement officer for an inspection?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Me personally I have not. When the maintenance crew came out last Friday with the electrician I asked that the city ordinance office inspect my unit. I was told that the electrician that came out was licensed and actually wired the entire development and was more than qualified. I was also told I would received a faxed copy of what he had done. This was Friday May 3, 2013. I have received nothing at this point. do I have the right to call the city code enforcement? In addition, when the fire department was there I over heard them saying something about the breakers not being to code. Would city code enforcement be able to note this independently of what the Singh management reps are sending out?

Here's the deal.

Your general description of the circumstances suggests two different legal theories under which you may be able to terminate the lease:

1. Breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. This means that the landlord or his/her agent (property management) has violated your right to the exclusive possession of the premises. The complete acquiescence of enforcing reasonable noise rules in the complex could be viewed as a breach. The term "quiet" doesn't actually refer to noise -- it refers to your right to be undisturbed in your possession of the rental property. But, in this case, a continued barrage of noise can be said to actually interfere with your possession, because you can't live in an environment where you cannot sleep, and if the landlord is responsible, then that is a breach of covenant.

2. Breach of the warranty of habitability. If a property has substantial dilapidations that makes it uninhabitable, then this breaches the warranty of habitability. Defective electrical wiring is a health and safety hazard, and that breaches the warranty.

Ultimately, however, in order to prove your right to terminate the lease, you must be able to assemble evidence that a court will accept. You can hire your own electrician to inspect the property and report on the defects (and you will need this person to be available to testify in court, so you need to clear this up in advance, so that the electrician doesn't later balk at the subpoena, if and when the time comes to go to court). Or, you can complain to city code enforcement. If a code enforcement officer finds the property defective in some manner, then you have evidence that the court will accept (though, once again, you would need to subpoena the officer to testify).

You can never tell whether or not a property manager will let you out of a lease without a fight. But, I can promise you that you won't get out without credible evidence that the property manager will recognize puts the likelihood of legal action heavily in your favor.

So, ask code enforcement to inspect, or hire your own electrician, and see if you can get the evidence that you need. Otherwise, the only way to get out clean, is to either pay the landlord for the early termination -- or, find a tenant willing to assume your lease (hard to do, but, a legal option). If you find a replacement tenant, then you are off the hook as soon as the tenant takes occupancy.

Hope this helps.
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