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Breaking a lease...

Posted by Sathya Gosselin on February 28, 2000 at 15:24:50:


I currently live on the parlor floor of a brownstone in Brooklyn with my girlfriend. It is not rent-controlled. In January we signed a six month lease for this two room apartment with a verbal agreement stating that unifinished work would be completed. The last six weeks have been awful, with hidden defects in the apartment surfacing every day. The noise in the apartment is ridiculous, with our landlord--who lives below us--shouting all the time while his three dogs run across the floor and bark. Hidden smells have emerged, ranging from cat feces that were painted over on the side of the floor molding to the bad meat smell coming up into our kitchen from his cooking downstairs. As it is a 100 year old building, our landlord simply bored large holes in the floors to make room for the heating and plumbing pipes. Underneath the thin layer of linoleum are holes that are not flush with the pipes. Last night, while I was sitting on my couch the kitchen window fell into the apartment and I had to prop it back up. This obviously raises a security concern and is only one of many similar issues.

I have brought up some of these issues with my landlord who has become incredibly defensive and unhelpful. I want to break our lease and I am even willing to help him find a new tenant but I know that he will fly into a rage and hold our security deposit. I thought about giving him a month's notice and asking that he take our security deposit for that remaining rent.

I have had an immensely difficult time finding legal grounds for breaking a lease. My girlfriend and I cannot afford a lawyer but do not know what to do.
If anyone can be of any help I would sincerely appreciate it.


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