My husband and I need to break our lease early due to the uninhabitable conditions of the house. Both water heaters were found to be leaking onto Sheetrock that had been burned in a fire and never replaced causing a horrible smell and resulting in mold in the walls. We have also been without hot water in the master bathroom and kitchen for two weeks. I am pregnant and being in the house has been causing both my husband and I to suffer from nasal congestion and headaches which seem to go away when we leave the house for days at a time. We notified the landlord and property manager of the issue and here we are almost a month later and they are just now starting to make repairs to the water damaged sheet rock and mold, but still no hot water. Last week, we notified them that we need to end our lease early due to these conditions and that we would like our pet deposit and security deposit back in full due to the inconvenience. We have submitted an official letter and the property manager will not respond. She is unreachable, and the landlord says he pays her too much to deal with this issue. We are currently moving out and have not heard back from either party.
Based on your description, you are not only entitled to move out without penalty, landlord owes you damages. You should be getting a rent refund and moving expenses. Again, based on your description.
Download this document to learn more about your rights, and what to do when they are violated: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/catenant.pdf.
Depending on the amount of money involved, you can pursue landlord in small claims court, or have an attorney review the facts and act on your behalf.
A negotiated agreement is always best. So make an attempt to settle things peacefully as you move out. Make a proposal in writing. Document all conversations in writing afterwards. Take lots of pictures and notes about the history. Your landlord may have a lawsuit against the property management company, who may have insurance to help remedy your losses.
it will be a hassle and a lot of work, but if you work on these things you should be able to improve your situation, and get some expense reimbursement.
As usual, Mr. Moss' advice is good and sensible.
Under various laws, including Civil Code Section 1942, if a residential landlord fails to fix untenantable conditions within a reasonable time after receiving notice, the tenant normally has the right to break the lease with no liability for future rent, etc.
The tenant would also have the right to sue for moving expenses, property damage, emotional distress, increased rent for the period of the lease, etc. Small Claims court has jurisdiction up to $10k, and that is often the best option for smaller claims.
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