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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012

    Default Can You Break a Lease Over Severe Health Issues

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: CA

    My significant other and I signed a lease 6 weeks ago, after 2 weeks he noticed increase in health issues. He has severe allergies, including mold. We notified PM of the issue, the put in a new air filter in the apt. This didn't help him, so we informed them we couldn't stay there for his health. We requested to work with PM, possible just to rent another apt in this place. We kept calling asking to speak with the PM, never received any call back etc. finally when he spoke with her, she stated we had a letter taped to our door and that she would not be dealing with us that the ownership company would be. The letter was three lines and stated. They couldn't honor our request to change locations, that our apartment was inspected and it was fine because it had new paint and flooring.

    We are now wanting to break the lease, he can't be there without increase in symptoms etc. we aren't staying there and are looking for another place to live.

    Can we break under civil code 1942, what proof etc do we need? Public health in this county doesn't do inspections. Other government agencies that I should contact etc?

    Also, we have most of our stuff out of the apartment, I have taken pictures of areas we were concerned with. But as we weren't notified with 24 hours about an "inspection"' we never were able to address with PM. If they did do this inspection it was without our knowledge that they were going to enter the apartment. I do know Ca law requires this and it was in our lease for 24 hour notice in anon emergency situation. We weren't given an initial inspection when we rented, she just gave us the keys and walked us to the door. I've read we should request an exit inspection??

    Should we give notice now?? we aren't doing 30 days. I was going to send the letter of immediate termination certified mail and surrender our keys this weekend. Is this wise or should we hold off?

    Any suggestions and advice would be helpful.... We have both never had this happen before and I have NEVER broken a lease or needed to.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Can You Break a Lease Over Severe Health Issues

    The concept of untenantability is defined by statute:
    Quote Quoting California Civil Code, Sec. 1941.1.
    A dwelling shall be deemed untenantable for purposes of Section 1941 if it substantially lacks any of the following affirmative standard characteristics or is a residential unit described in Section 17920.3 or 17920.10 of the Health and Safety Code:

    (a) Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors.

    (b) Plumbing or gas facilities that conformed to applicable law in effect at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.

    (c) A water supply approved under applicable law that is under the control of the tenant, capable of producing hot and cold running water, or a system that is under the control of the landlord, that produces hot and cold running water, furnished to appropriate fixtures, and connected to a sewage disposal system approved under applicable law.

    (d) Heating facilities that conformed with applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.

    (e) Electrical lighting, with wiring and electrical equipment that conformed with applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.

    (f) Building, grounds, and appurtenances at the time of the commencement of the lease or rental agreement, and all areas under control of the landlord, kept in every part clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.

    (g) An adequate number of appropriate receptacles for garbage and rubbish, in clean condition and good repair at the time of the commencement of the lease or rental agreement, with the landlord providing appropriate serviceable receptacles thereafter and being responsible for the clean condition and good repair of the receptacles under his or her control.

    (h) Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair.

    (i) A locking mail receptacle for each residential unit in a residential hotel, as required by Section 17958.3 of the Health and Safety Code. This subdivision shall become operative on July 1, 2008.
    Sec. 1942 only comes into play if the premises are untenantable. There is no provision for special sensitivity:
    Quote Quoting California Civil Code, Sec. 1942.
    (a) If within a reasonable time after written or oral notice to the landlord or his agent, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 1962, of dilapidations rendering the premises untenantable which the landlord ought to repair, the landlord neglects to do so, the tenant may repair the same himself where the cost of such repairs does not require an expenditure more than one month's rent of the premises and deduct the expenses of such repairs from the rent when due, or the tenant may vacate the premises, in which case the tenant shall be discharged from further payment of rent, or performance of other conditions as of the date of vacating the premises. This remedy shall not be available to the tenant more than twice in any 12-month period.

    (b) For the purposes of this section, if a tenant acts to repair and deduct after the 30th day following notice, he is presumed to have acted after a reasonable time. The presumption established by this subdivision is a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of producing evidence and shall not be construed to prevent a tenant from repairing and deducting after a shorter notice if all the circumstances require shorter notice.

    (c) The tenant's remedy under subdivision (a) shall not be available if the condition was caused by the violation of Section 1929 or 1941.2.

    (d) The remedy provided by this section is in addition to any other remedy provided by this chapter, the rental agreement, or other applicable statutory or common law.
    So far, you have provided no evidence that the apartment is untenantable. You have stated only that your S.O. has allergies that got worse after you moved in, and you assume that it has something to do with mold. You have indicated that you have no results from mold tests, no evidence of unsafe mold - you've implied that you have no evidence of any mold whatsoever - and no evidence of what triggered your S.O.'s allergies.

    You apparently requested that your landlord inspect your unit for issues. We weren't privy to your request or any associated discussion of when or how that would occur, but it goes without saying that your landlord cannot inspect your unit for problems without entering the unit. The inspection occurred how long ago, following what discussion, with the results of the inspection reported to you how long ago? You immediately complained? And how did your landlord respond?

    From what you've told us so far, your breach of the lease appears unjustified and I would expect you to be liable for rent until a new tenant is found (or, if a new tenant cannot be found with reasonable effort by your landlord, the end of the lease term). I suggest trying to work out some sort of release agreement with the landlord, including any claim for damages (if any), future rent, and the like. Yes, I do suggest a walk-through.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012

    Default Re: Can You Break a Lease Over Severe Health Issues

    Thanks for your reply.

    We didn't actually request an inspection. We had continued to leave messages to meet with the PM. I believe the office staff did their jobs etc, but we weren't able to discuss with her. One of the office girls told us to write a letter, so we wrote a letter describing the health issue and requesting to meet with management to discuss steps to resolve the issue. We suggested even moving to another apartment (it's a large corporate apartment complex) while maintaining a contract with them. We also stated that we were open to other suggestions by management to resolve the issue. We submitted the letter, and we're told by the office staff we should hear from someone by the following Monday. On Wednesday we called again, and we're told we received a letter and it was taped to our door. We were also told that the PM wouldn't be dealing with us any more and that the corporate office would handle our case.

    That letter is the one that states "your apartment has been inspected" but not when, by whom, finding etc. there was no notice on the door. The management is making it difficult to work on a solution together. We can't get anyone other than the two office assistance to talk to us, so it's hard to resolve this.

    We do know we have to move no matter what for his health, we just want to make sure that we aren't getting the short end of the stick. It seems we could pay a whole lot of money for a private mold inspection to demonstrate the extent of mold etc. but it seems we would be paying more money into the situation.

    I have read to make it very clear that we are terminating the lease, that we are vacating the premise and to have a final walk through. Also read not to sign any additional paperwork that can loop you into more financial issues??? It seems like we should hire a lawyer to break a lease so we don't end up paying more than we should.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2011

    Default Re: Can You Break a Lease Over Severe Health Issues

    You will be paying, the question is how much. You say you want to meet and resolve the issue, yet say you are moving no matter what. It does not appear to matter what the complex thinks.

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