Can I Break My Apartment Lease If I Feel Unsafe?

Breaking your apartment lease has a penalty cost, but you can avoid paying the penalty under certain circumstances.

If you feel unsafe in your apartment and can prove it, you can vacate it after a 30-day notice period.

It is best to go through your lease agreement and conduct thorough research before deciding on an apartment because breaking the lease can be costly and time-consuming.

What Makes Tenants Feel Unsafe in Apartments?

If you are feeling unsafe in your apartment, you might be wondering how to get out of your lease agreement.

Here are some reasons you might be feeling unsafe:

Your Neighbors Are Making You Feel Unsafe

Sometimes you just can’t do enough research before moving in and end up realizing many things once you have settled into your new place.

You may notice that your neighbors seem shady and may be involved in illegal activities such as using and selling drugs.

You may notice them bringing in strange guests, and you might suspect that something dangerous might be going on.

All of this can sometimes make you very uneasy, especially if you are living alone or with children.

In this situation, you must not wait and immediately contact your landlord and your local law enforcement.

Ignoring such people can be very dangerous in the future as they can be a threat to you or your family.

Also read: How to Be a Good Neighbor in an Apartment Complex?

Your Landlord Seems Suspicious and Dangerous

Your landlord is supposed to provide you with a safe and habitable environment in your new apartment.

If your landlord neglects their duties in making repairs and maintenance done, then they are breaking the landlord-tenant agreement.

If your landlord is harassing you in one or more of the following ways, then you are entitled to terminate your lease agreement:

All of these situations come under harassment and must not be taken lightly.

Your Neighborhood Is Feeling Dangerous

Before you move into a new place, it is important that you visit the neighborhood at different times of the day at least once or twice before you finalize the deal.

You want to ensure that the neighborhood you are moving into is safe and not a threat to you or your family.

If you suspect that your neighborhood is unsafe at night or has illegal activity, you must immediately bring this to your landlord’s attention.

It is your landlord’s job to ensure their tenants’ safety. This involves ensuring that the people living in the neighborhood are clean and not engaging in criminal or illegal activities.

All the tenants and units that fall under the landlord’s jurisdiction are responsible and must ensure the safety and habitability of all their tenants. 

When Can You Break Your Apartment Lease Agreement?

Certain circumstances under which a tenant may terminate their lease agreement before its time.

If The Tenant Is Being Harassed Or Abused In The Apartment

If the tenant feels harassed or is a victim of violence and abuse in the apartment, then the tenant has the right to break the lease agreement and leave the apartment without paying the penalty.

You may feel uncomfortable due to your neighborhood or neighbors. Or it could be your landlord who is harassing you and making it difficult for you to go about your routine.

It can sometimes be very tricky to navigate, especially if you feel threatened or harassed by your landlord.

You may sometimes feel stuck in a situation like that because you have already signed the lease.

In these situations, it is best to speak with a lawyer immediately to look for your options. It can be dangerous living in an environment where there might be a threat to your safety.

If The Landlord Is Not Regular With Maintenance And Repairs

It is the landlord’s job to make sure that basic needs such as clean running water, the HVAC  system, and urgent repairs must be prioritized.

The landlord must ensure that the property is secured with good-quality locks. The entrances and exits are properly sealed, and there are proper fire exits in the building.

There should be adequate fire extinguishers, and the safety of the building must be well handled by the landlord.

The landlord must address anything that is causing a hindrance to the tenants living in the apartment or is a health and safety hazard.

They must ensure that any repairs that need to be done should be taken care of immediately.

Failure to create safe and habitable conditions for tenants can give the tenant a right to break their lease agreement and leave the apartment.

If The Apartment Is Illegal

If the apartment is made on illegal land or was an illegal unit, then the tenant has the right to break their lease agreement.

In some states, the tenant is entitled to a fraction of the rent they had paid over the years that they had rented the illegal place.

The landlord must also give a certain amount to the tenant to help them find a new place to stay.

If The Tenant Is Serving In The Military

If the tenant is in active military service and is required to relocate to another station, they are allowed to break their lease agreement.

They are required to however provide at least 30-days’ notice prior to the termination of the lease agreement so that the landlord can look for new tenants.

The tenant must provide proof of the relocation notice for this rule to apply.

If The Landlord Does Not Give You Privacy

Once a tenant moves in, the landlord is not allowed to enter the property without permission or invitation by the tenant.

If the landlord wishes to visit or conduct an inspection, they must ask 24 hours in advance.

They cannot just barge in.

Breaching the tenant’s privacy is a violation of the tenant-landlord law and entitles the tenant to break the lease agreement.

The landlord is only allowed to enter the tenant’s apartment under three conditions:

  • In case of an emergency such as a fire, gas leak, or a burst water pipe, or if they suspect that the tenant might be in trouble.
  • Once a year, for inspection

When the current tenant’s lease is almost finished, they want to show the apartment to prospective buyers.

This is when they can enter the premises to show the apartment around to new buyers.

How To Break The Lease Agreement When You Feel Unsafe?

If you feel unsafe in your new apartment and if your concerns are genuine, then you may discuss them with your landlord.

It is best to back your claims up with documented evidence such as photos and videos.

When addressing your landlord with your complaints, try doing it via a recorded phone call or a formal letter so that you have proof.

Ideally, your landlord should handle your issues right away and find ways to help resolve the problems. But if they don’t, you can break the lease agreement.

What Can Happens If You Break A Lease Agreement?

Your Landlord Might Sue You

Terminating your lease early could anger your landlord, and they may take you to court.

This goes on your permanent record and could affect your ability to rent other places in the future.

You Would Have To Pay A Hefty Termination Penalty

Terminating a lease agreement early can cost you up to three months’ worth of rent and the security deposit you had paid at the beginning.

If you only have a few months left, then it is better to wait it out rather than pay so much money just to leave as you would need to find a new place to stay in anyway.

It Would Affect Your Credit Score Negatively

Breaking a lease agreement or going to court comes onto your record and reflects badly on you. It is advised to wait it out until your lease time finishes.

Rather than going through all the formalities of breaking the agreement, it is better to wait it out for the lease to end in its time. Keep counting down the days!

Having a court order or having broken a lease agreement is entered into your file and decreases your credit score, making it more difficult for you to rent an apartment in the future.

You May Not Be Able To Move Into A New Place Immediately

Abruptly breaking your lease agreement leaves you with no place to stay. It takes weeks and months to find the right place that checks all your boxes.

If you happen to find a place with a great location, the perfect sized apartment, and one that falls within your budget, then you are very lucky.

Otherwise, it can take a long time until you find the perfect apartment that meets all your requirements.

Final Words

While it is recommended to make sure that you conduct thorough research before agreeing to buy an apartment, sometimes there are certain things that we only come to know once we have moved in.

If, after moving into your new place, you realize that your safety is at risk, you may break your lease agreement, provided your case is strong enough.

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