If a tenant's safety is severely threatened, can they legally bypass the lease agreement and break the lease?
posted by roomcoloredcharlatan to Human Relations (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
About a month ago I (Jimmy*) promised my friend Frankie* to move into her apartment to sublease the remaining 4 months of her lease. My lease ends on the 25th of April. Everything was going as planned, she spoke with the landlord who approved the sublease, and I was looking forward to move in. She is supposed to move out on the 21st of April, in a couple of days. We also live in Michigan, Ann Arbor area and we’re broke students. About a week ago, Frankie met this guy at the nearby park who at first seemed friendly and reasonable, but now has become a major problem.
This is what she says: He at first seemed very humorous, even when expressing some questionable opinions, but as the day and conversation went on, his behavior began to reveal a more unstable, aggressive condition. He walked me back to my apartment and became aware of where I was living. The following day he was seen hanging around the neighborhood by the other tenants of my apartment building, and we saw him on the street as well before we found out that he's been specifically looking for me. We courteously said hello for few seconds and left. Later that evening he was ringing the door bell while I was gone, and also did so while I was in my apartment. The tenants on the second floor listened as I went down to confront him and during this encounter he asked I was alone, told me that he was going to help me, and stepped inside the doorway. I told him that I didn’t want him coming to my house any longer, and he was making me uncomfortable. He said that he understood, looked at me up and down, walked out, and slammed the door.
We went together to the police where Frankie filed a police report (we're also keeping notes about all the details we could remember), and the police said they would keep an eye out for him to ID him and get his last name to file a protection order. Frankie was really afraid, and had to sleep on my couch that night. Since then, he still continues to come to Frankie's door, but luckily while she wasn't present. This past Saturday I left to go visit Frankie at her work, and I saw him again very close to my house, just loitering on the sidewalk. I was suspicious, and after I passed him I started looking behind me, and it turned out that he started following me as well. I had to take few sharp turns and I managed to lose him, because I have no idea who this person is and what he's capable of – I had an experience with him a month ago as well, where he walked up to me on the street, said whole bunch of religious gibberish and walked off dramatically.
Today, we talked with Frankie's landlord and explained how this is a serious safety issue not just for us, but for all of the tenants in the building, and how it's nobody's fault for being stuck in a situation like this. Basically we were trying to find a way to either break the lease, or simply sublease at a different place. The landlord, wasn't sympathetic at all, and basically told us to speak with a lawyer because she won't break the lease, and repeatedly stated that this is not her issue, and all she can do is keep the building up to code. To be fair, she also mentioned the possibility of finding someone else to sublease it.
We are wondering if there's anything we could do about this, because the rent is about $500 a month, and it doesn't seem fair for anyone to pay for it. We understand the position of the landlord, but we think this goes beyond the issue of money, because who knows when will the police find this person, what will happen in meantime, and how he will react after that. We're hoping there's some sort of protection for tenants in extraordinary situations such as this.
Note: Our names are altered, and some of the details are cut short in order to keep this post concise, but we still apologize for the length. If something is unclear, we can gladly clarify.