You are contractually bound for the term of the lease. You may try to surrender the keys to the landlord which may, if accepted, negate the lease. Didn't you check out the area before you moved in. Give your landlord notice that you intend to cancel the lease, you may argue that the incidents equate to a constructive eviction. Frankly, how bad it's going to be in attempting to break the lease will depend on your landlords attitude. Let him know the building is not secure and as such uninhabitable based on the facts. Ask his to list the property for rent or if you can sublet. Kill him/her with kindness, but be firm and lay out the facts in a logical way in chronological order. You moved in and A, B , C and D happened on such and such a date. Tell him/her you don't feel safe. You will probably have to give him a chance to cure, by improving safety, security bars on doors and windows, floodlights, alarm, etc. Tell him or her you are considering placing the rent due into an escrow account until the issue is resolved. The landlord may just let you out. But be ready. Call a local bank and ask them about escrow accounts and then look on line at the Ohio Revised Code for Landlord/Tenant obligations and follow the law.
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Hi Stephanie, I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I agree with my colleague's advice to approach the landlord and ask to be released from the remainder of your lease, citing all the criminal incidents which have occurred. Killing with kindness is a good suggestion because the landlord isn't required to just release you from your contractual obligation. If you are able, you may even want to offer a monetary "settlement" in exchange for the landlord's agreement to release you - 1 or 2 months rent, for instance. If you are going to do that, be sure to get the arrangement documented in writing - i.e. in exchange for X payment, landlord agrees to terminate tenancy effective on X date and releases you from all obligations under the lease.
If this doesn't work, I would also agree to approach the situation as if the premises is uninhabitable - Ohio Revised Code Section 5321.04 (http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/5321.04) requires the landlord to keep the premises in a fit & habitable condition. Section 5321.07 (http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/5321.07) requires the tenant to give written notice of any condition the tenant believes is in violation of 5321.04 and allow the landlord a reasonable amount of time to "cure" the condition. As my colleague mentioned, this may include beefing up security measures at the property. If the landlord takes no action to remedy the problematic condition, you have various remedies available to you in that section, including either terminating the lease or putting your rent in escrow with the county court. 5321.08 addresses putting rent in escrow (http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/5321.08).
Please note that the remedies listed in 5321.07 are not applicable in all instances, and if you do not follow proper procedure you may subject yourself to substantial liability in terms of a breach of your lease. I would advise getting a personal consultation with a local landlord/tenant attorney to make sure you are following the proper procedure and to mitigate your potential liability to the landlord. Many offer free initial consultations - you can search for an attorney on Avvo or call your local bar association for a referral. I hope this was helpful, and best of luck to you.
I am licensed in the State of Ohio, posting a response to your question or issue does not create an attorney-client relationship and I AM NOT providing you legal advice. You should speak with an attorney who is licensed in your state to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights--or rights to recovery of damages.