Due to COVID-19, I have decided not to return to my university in April (which was my original plan.) However, my university-approved apartment complex will not release me from my contractual obligation; they have only offered a discounted rent for the inconvenience.

As a condition of university approval, all apartment complexes are required to ensure their premises are safe. However, based on the latest word from the university's Housing Office, it does not appear that they will be intervening.

I am in Colorado, and my apartment complex is in Idaho. For the uninitiated/unaware, both are under stay-at-home orders that, at the time of this writing, are scheduled to end before April 18th, when I am "expected" to return to university.

My question is, am I still obligated to pay rent, or can I refuse on the basis of the pandemic?

EDIT: After a review of my last contract with them, I found this section:

  1. BREACH OF CONTRACT BY LANDLORD: Landlord may be in breach of Contract for the following reasons: (A) Landlord fails to maintain property according to BYU-Idaho requirements as stated in the Approved Housing Guidebook; (B) Landlord materially misrepresents property on website and/or in written information such as e-mails, flyers, brochures, etc.; or (C) Landlord suffers, permits, or maintains any nuisance or any health or safety hazard on the premises. Landlord agrees to release Student from this Contract and cover moving costs.
  • Does the contract have any clauses about the termination of the contract? If it's tied to your enrollment as a student, for instance, you could simply withdraw your enrollment at the university.
    – nick012000
    Apr 6, 2020 at 7:23
  • People live in apartments all across the country. For most of these people it is home, (and thus where they are staying to satisfy the various stay-at-home orders). Apartments in general are not unsafe or unhealthy. If you want to make the claim that (A) the Landlord has failed to maintain the property, or (C) the Landlord is maintaining a health or safety hazard, you're going to need to be specific how this is the case. What is it about your apartment complex that you consider unsafe?
    – Mr.Mindor
    Apr 9, 2020 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


Yes, you are still obligated by your contract. In general, the existing states of emergency do not cancel contracts or suspend portions of contracts. In some states, eviction proceedings are on hold, and that is as far as overriding contracts goes.

  • Did they not (at least potentially) acknowledge that they breached the contract by offering a discount for the "inconvenience"? If they failed to adhere to the safety requirement, that the OP mentioned, how can that not have consequences for status of a rental agreement?
    – grovkin
    Apr 4, 2020 at 23:44
  • 1
    Under the circumstances, a discount is not a recognition of fault, it's a recognition of contemporary socio-political fact. I doubt they failed to adhere to any university's safety standard. The OP can clarify what the purported breach of contract (with the tenant) is.
    – user6726
    Apr 5, 2020 at 0:02
  • But the discount wasn't to relieve a hardship. Purportedly it was for an inconvenience. It could, of course, be a poor choice of words. Or it could have been "lost in translation" between what they said and what the OP reported. But assuming that they did phrase it that way, did it not amount to a recognition that their actions, or inactions, had caused an inconvenience?
    – grovkin
    Apr 5, 2020 at 20:13
  • @grovkin I don't see anything suggesting any connection between the landlord's actions/inactions and the discount. They gave the OP a discount for "inconvenience", but that in no way indicates the inconvenience was caused by them. I could imagine a similar situation if, for example, municipal street repairs made apartment or garage access much more difficult for a month - the landlord could kindly offer some concession, but that doesn't mean they caused the issue. Recognition of another's hardship is not an admission of fault. Apr 8, 2020 at 16:41
  • 1
    Okay, what did they do that constitutes a health of safety hazard?
    – user6726
    Apr 9, 2020 at 4:31

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