If you sign a lease with your landlord, you generally cannot legally break it without facing legal or financial consequences.
You run into certain situations. Here are 2 of them.
The Rental Unit Violates Health and Safety Codes or is Unsafe
Under Georgia law, landlords are required to provide housing that is fit and “habitable” (in other words, in livable condition). This means that the housing unit must comply with Georgia state and local health and safety codes.
Housing that has defective conditions that render it uninhabitable (for example, blocked drains, nonfunctioning electrics, unsafe conditions) that remain unrepaired, can result in the tenant being “constructively evicted” from the premises.
Constructive eviction is a legal concept that says (essentially) that when the premises become uninhabitable due to serious defective conditions in the property (e.g., plumbing, electrical, windows) that are the landlord’s responsibility to repair which the landlord does not repair, even if the tenant does not move out of the property, these serious health and safety code violations render the tenant “constructively evicted.” It’s as if the landlord had evicted the tenant.
This means that the tenant can legally stop paying rent and/or can stop paying rent and move out.
Active Military Service
The other time you can legally break a lease is if you come within the purview of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA” or “Act”). The Act provides certain protections for deployed servicemembers. Its purpose is to enable those who serve our country to devote their full attention to their military obligations by granting them some leniency in terms of their civil responsibilities.
Servicemembers can terminate leases if they occupy a property for a residential, agricultural, professional, business or similar purpose. The SCRA also covers their dependents who may be using the property as well.
However, to use this option the lease itself must meet certain requirements and the military member must meet specific requirements (as to “active duty” and “deployment”) and must follow specific procedures for giving notice of termination.
It is important for both landlords and tenants to understand their rights and obligations when it comes to leases.
Protecting Your Rights Is What We Do
If you a landlord or a tenant and have questions or issues regarding the leased property, contact us. We handle all aspects of real estate, including landlord/tenant issues. We are based in Cumming, Georgia and we service Atlanta, Marietta, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Kennesaw, Forsyth County, and a number of other counties in and around the Atlanta metropolitan area. To schedule your free phone consultation, call us at: 770-888-7707. Don’t wait until you lose your home. Call us today.