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There have been severe storms in California (Palo Alto) and unfortunately the house I am renting has leaking roofs. Landlord is aware and says they will fix it, but no date has been set. Another major storm is coming.

Is this enough to break the lease without penalty?

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The lease may contain, or tenancy law may require a lease to contain (which is the same thing, even if the actual lease doesn't have it) a clause regarding uninhabitability.

This means effectively that the house must be inhabitable. This could be a defined term, use a "reasonable person" test, or be left to individual decisions by an inspector.

If this is not the case, or the ubinhabitability clause does not trigger, you may also consider requirements that issues be addressed n a reasonable time, thereafter being grounds for termination of lease.

What counts as "reasonable" can differ based on almost any factor involved; the amount of damage and the availability of any specialist staff or equipment or materials are most likely to matter. Cost should not matter, as that is the landlord's problem and except for "optional" repairs or changes, it cannot usually be made your problem.

Beyond these two areas, you will probably need specific legal advice. To be sure of what clauses and laws may apply to your situation, getting specific legal advice from a qualified and recognised practitioner of law is the best approach.

  • Is the landlord bound to fix it in a timely manner? So far they have been made aware of the roof holes and leaks for some weeks now but haven't responded. We recently found out the unit was not properly grounded and they sent an "electrician" that took over 6 hours! – ina Feb 23 '17 at 23:19
  • "You may also consider requirements that that issues be addressed in a reasonable time ... To be sure of what clauses and laws may apply to your situation, getting specific legal advice from a qualified and recognised practitioner of law is the best approach." – Nij Feb 23 '17 at 23:33

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