Selma, CA asked in Contracts and Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: Can I void my lease if the apartment was not ready by the term date?

I signed my lease and paid deposit and first months rent before the final walk through of my apartment. When I went to move in and do the final walk through, there were dead roaches on the floor, the apartment was dirty and the whole complex full of weeds. I did not move into the unit because I didn’t approve of its condition, can I get out of my lease if the apartment was not move-in ready?

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2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, landlords are required to provide a habitable living space to their tenants. This includes ensuring that the unit is clean, safe, and in good repair at the start of the tenancy. If the apartment is not in a habitable condition when the lease term begins, you may have grounds to void the lease.

California Civil Code Section 1942 states that if a landlord fails to provide a habitable dwelling, the tenant may give written notice to the landlord specifying the defects and giving the landlord a reasonable period to make repairs. If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant has the right to abandon the premises.

In your case, since you did not move into the unit due to its unacceptable condition, you should:

1. Document the issues with the apartment by taking photos and videos.

2. Provide written notice to the landlord, detailing the problems and your intention to void the lease if the issues are not resolved within a reasonable timeframe.

3. If the landlord fails to address the issues, you can proceed with voiding the lease and seeking the return of your deposit and first month's rent.

However, it's essential to consult with a local tenant rights organization or attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law to ensure that you follow the proper procedures and protect your rights as a tenant in your specific situation.

Delaram Keshvarian
Delaram Keshvarian
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Orange, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Thank you for your question!

If there is infestation of roaches or unhabitable situation in the property, you can cancel the lease. The landlord has a duty to deliver the property to tenant in a proper and habitable situation.

Consult with an attorney to figure out if the situation of the property reaches to the level of unhabitability.

This is merely a discussion of general laws and not legal advice. For legal advice, more specific facts and investigations are needed. I recommend you consult with an attorney for more details.

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