JK-Q&A: Landlord’s letting the place go! Can I get out?

I know I have 8 months left, but can I have one of these?

People seem to ask this question a lot and it often sounds like this: I’ve told my landlord several times that the kitchen sink is leaking, the cabinet doors are falling off, and my toilet starts making these crazy noises in the middle of the night and not because it’s in use.  He hasn’t done anything!  At best, he says “I’ll get to it,” but most of the time, he just ignores me.  I would love to move out of here, but I have 8 months left on my lease.  Can I get out with a clean break?

The Ohio Landlord-Tenant Act, Revised Code Chapter 5321, provides several statutory duties for a residential lease relationship that both the landlord and the tenant must follow. A proper Lease Agreement should spell out most of the duties and will be your “instruction manual” on how you can get relief. Some terms that may not appear in the Lease Agreement are nevertheless enforceable as they appear in the Revised Code.

For instance, the Landlord has a duty under the Act to keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition, including making repairs in a timely fashion. Most leases specifically spell out this duty by the Landlord. If you have notified your Landlord (notice in writing is always recommended and certified mail is not a bad idea either) that you need repairs in the unit and the Landlord fails or refuses to respond or make repairs, it is possible for a tenant to terminate the Lease Agreement without any further liability for the rent on the remainder of the Lease term.

It is not advisable to proceed on any course of action without referring to the Lease first or to follow a lawyer’s answer if that lawyer has not reviewed your lease agreement…(including this lawyer!). My best advice would be to read your Lease carefully and, if you are still not sure how best to proceed, to contact a lawyer and ask him or her to review your Lease Agreement.

Posted by Jerry