Shady Side, MD asked in Contracts and Landlord - Tenant for Maryland

Q: Can I break my lease due to anxiety and depression??

My bedroom ceiling began caving in one night while I was asleep in bed. The proper management company did come and replace the entire ceiling in my bedroom however I haven’t slept in my bed due to the constant fear of it caving in. This has caused me sleep deprivation, which is worsening my anxiety and depression as I’m sleeping on my couch which isn’t a sustainable solution. I am not confident in the structural integrity of the ceiling. Would I be able to make a case to end my lease early due to my constant anxiety/depression so that I can find somewhere I deem safe to live.?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Real Property Code Section 8-212.2, provides in petinent part;

(b) [I]f a tenant under a residential lease meets the conditions set forth in subsection (c) of this section, the tenant's liability for rent under the lease may not exceed 2 months' rent after the date on which the tenant vacates the leased premises.

(c) To qualify for the limitation of liability under subsection (b) of this section, the tenant shall provide to the landlord before the tenant vacates the leased premises:

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (d) of this section, a written certification from a physician regarding an individual who is a named party in, or an authorized occupant under the terms of, the lease that states in substantially the following form:

“I, (name of physician), hereby certify that my patient, (name of patient), is no longer able to live at his or her leased premises, (address of leased premises), because the patient has a medical condition that:

(1) Substantially restricts the physical mobility of the patient within, or from entering and exiting, the leased premises; or

(2) Requires the patient to move to a home, facility, or institution to obtain a higher level of care than can be provided at the leased premises.

I certify further that the expected duration of the patient's medical condition will continue beyond the termination date of the patient's lease, which the patient states is (termination date of lease).”; and

(2) A written notice of the termination of the lease stating the date by when the tenant will vacate the leased premises.

(d) A certification that is provided to a landlord under subsection (c)(1) of this section shall be:

(1) Written by a physician who is licensed by the State Board of Physicians to practice medicine in the State under Title 14 of the Health Occupations Article;

(2) Prepared on the letterhead or printed prescription form of the physician; and

(3) Signed by the physician.

You will need a psychiatrist to write the letter, make a diagnosis and check all the boxes required by the above code section to certify that your psychiatric condition prevents you from physically moving freely about your apartment (e.g., prevents you from entering or using the bedroom), and that the condition will last beyond your current lease term despite treatment. The above Code section requires the letter be written exactly as stated above, and by a "physician" licensed by the State Board of Physicians. There is a difference between psychiatrists and psychologists: only psychiatrists are certified by the State Board of Physicians. Psychologists (and licensed therapists) are not, despite their possibly having board certifications under their separate professional licensing boards. I doubt most medical doctors (non-psychiatrists) would be in a position to make a psychiatric diagnosis of the type you would need to break the lease. You might also try to negotiate your way out of the lease directly with the management office or landlord. You should also look into whether your local county code has any additional options for early termination based on disability.

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