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Breaking a 2 year Rental Lease Breaking a Lease

Discussion in 'Other Residential Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by MelM, May 9, 2016.

  1. MelM

    MelM Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    New Jersey
    We've lived in the same rental for almost 10 years.
    We signed another 2 year lease, it started March 1st. There have been issues over the years with the landlord making promises to do specific repairs and we've agreed to certain repairs. He's not lived up to his at all and now we've discovered that he took out a mortgage on the property (it was inheritance property with no mortgage till this), I also discovered he hasn't been able to obtain home owners due to the fact that there is repairs he hasn't made that the mortgage company required. Over the years he's been behind in taxes (is again right now), and the borough has a list of repairs they've required to give him C of O (which we were under the impression he had up until a couple years ago).

    I've had to make 2 claims against my auto insurance due to falling limbs (BIG ones) because 2 of the 4 large trees in the back are dead or getting there, and in high winds limbs and branches fall. One time it broke my windshield, I wrote a letter and sent it with the rent stating what happened and that the trees need to come down because of this issue and the chance of them falling next time and taking out neighbors garages in either direction and / or our portable ones.
    Again a couple months ago more came down and did $2,500 worth of damage to my truck, with it in the body shop for a couple weeks and another insurance claim. I told him he was responsible for my $100 deductible (he agreed and paid) and again we had ANOTHER conversation about the trees. I stated the next time I was not making another claim, he would be responsible for damages because I wasn't having my insurance go up because he's not addressing the issue.
    He then confessed that he was not able to obtain homeowners at this time due to repairs required by the mortgage company.

    We're contemplating moving due to unease of the whole situation.

    Would we be subject to paying rent until he found another renter if we gave him 30+ days notice?
    At this time with no C of O I don't know if he could even rent it again.
    We've stayed this long because we had kids in school and we love the neighborhood but it's becoming very stressful waiting for the next "problem" to happen.
    I've kept a very detailed list and photos of all the work we've done since we've lived there.
    I think he'll be very angry if we decided to move and come at us legally.

    Thank you
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If you break a lease, any lease, it'll cost you money.
    How much?
    Read your lease.
    Then, discuss the matter with your landlord.

    There are a few exceptions, that allow you to break a lease.
    If they applied, you'd have to break the lease step by step as described in the statute.

    Based upon scanning your, rather lengthy post, none of those exceptions apply in your situation.
     
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Check with the city code department and see if not having C of O means he cannot have it occupied.

    If that's the case than you can just pack up and move and have a defense against anything he comes after you for.
     
    Michael Wechsler likes this.
  4. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Depending upon the jurisdiction, you may not be required to pay rent if the landlord does not have a certificate of occupancy. In fact, the landlord may not be able to recover any rent for the entire period of time that the residence did not have a certificate of occupancy since, by definition, it could be unlawful to rent the premises. From the way it sounds, I would tend to doubt that the landlord would want to come after you in landlord tenant court even if there were some remedies given how many issues the landlord would need to concede.

    From my experience, a clearly bad landlord who couldn't even bother to get homeowners insurance and a certificate of occupancy (along with owing back taxes) probably has even more problems. The law and/or most judges probably won't allow the landlord to come into court with unclean hands and collect from a tenant who has decided that they had enough in such a situation. It's not a given that the landlord would be reimbursed for attorneys fees and, in addition to a landlord with money problems needing to put the money up to pay for a landlord tenant attorney, they could even be subject to more fines by the court as a result of discovering more violations.
     

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