I am the parent of 2 college students who decided to rent the 3rd floor of a large, late 1800 home. Today I helped them move in and became very concerned about the potential fire hazard the property poses. To escape a fire, they would need to go down the hallway to the kitchen. There, a door leads to the outside stairs. The stairs land on a roof, just above the 2nd floor. The jump to the concrete is 12-15'. If they can't make it to the fire escape, they need to jump the full 3 stories. Either escape route will cause injury. Maybe death. Unbelievably, the property has passed health/safety inspections because it was "grandfathered" in. There are very few regulations to meet for a house this old.
I also have a concern about black/brown mold found on the bedroom window sills and bathroom. One of my daughters is asthmatic, and I think this will cause serious problems for her.
Is there any legal way to get them out of the lease? Or are they stuck with their mistake?
Good question for a local real estate attorney that knows the local laws, codes and leases. Bring the lease when you see the attorney. Ask questions and take notes then follow the attorney's advice. Good luck.
Seek out landlord-tenant counsel to see if either of these conditions can legally be used to contest the warranty of habitability.
I'm not sure there's much you can do about the fire hazard, if the city has deemed that the place has passed inspections. The black mold is more concerning. I would certainly bring that to the landlord's attention, in writing, and ask that he/she inspect and remove the mold if necessary. As far as breaking the lease, I'm sure there is a provision in the lease that explains what their options are on that. They may have to pay a fee, but if the place isn't safe, then that would be a better alternative than living there. Another option might be to sublet the place to other renters. You'd need to check the lease and see if that's allowed as well. If you have further questions, you should contact a local attorney who handles landlord/tenant issues.
This answer is for information only. It does not constitute legal advice. This answer does not constitute, nor do they create, an attorney-client relationship between Joseph A. Larson Law Firm PLLC and any receiver. This site is governed by a Site Use Agreement that you accept by reviewing these pages. The information provided on these pages is general only, and you should not act upon this information without consulting with an attorney.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline