Can a Tenant Move Out Due to Bad Conditions of the Premises?

If there is a problem with the property that impairs the tenant’s ability to enjoy it, the tenant can choose to leave without further notice if the landlord fails to fix the problem within a reasonable amount of time. The tenant is not responsible for paying any rent after the time the repair should have been made. In addition, the tenant is entitled to a prorated refund of any rent paid in advance during the period of disrepair of the premises and compensation for living in substandard premises.

Example: On January 1, Emma signed a one year lease with Harvey, and Emma paid the first month’s rent. On February 1, Emma paid the rent again, but the next day, the water heater sprang a leak. Emma told Harvey about the problem, but Harvey did nothing. Emma made a few more phone calls, but there was still no response from Harvey, and Emma still had no hot water. Fifteen days later, Emma packed up and left. In this case, Emma’s action is reasonable and lawful. Not only is she released from any further obligations under the lease, but she would also receive a refund, which is the pro rated rent for the second half month plus her security deposit (minus any legal deductions). In addition, Emma did not have hot water for half a month, so she would be eligible for another rent waiver. If Harvey and Emma cannot agree on that figure, the judge will have to decide when Emma sues Harvey at small claims court or housing court.