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can you break lease in MD for threat to personal safety?

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can you break lease in MD for threat to personal safety?

Postby murmal » Thu May 02, 2013 9:00 pm

My mom rents a ground floor apartment in Annapolis, MD. A month ago, she had an intruder enter her private and enclosed patio right outside of her bedroom/living room, masturbate, and ejaculate onto her sliding door. This apparently happened earlier as well, but she didn't know that the substance on her door was ejaculate. She contacted the police and also let the building manager know. Since then, the intruder has returned a number of times. The building manager has been completely unhelpful, even going so far as to imply that my mother was somehow to blame for cleaning off her sliding glass door the first time she encountered the substance (even though she didn't know what it was!), and has offered her no assistance as to any safety measures. The police staked out her apartment one night and installed cameras to try and catch the guy, but apparently they haven't been able to catch him before since he has been targeting this particular apartment for years. The police have records of this activity at this apartment. According to my mom's neighbor, it's the primary reason that the previous tenant left. So the place is well aware that this is a problem with this apartment, and took no steps to secure it, nor did they warn my mom when she rented the place (in fact, they claimed the previous tenant was a horrible crazy person).

My mom found a new place which will be ready in a month, and her lease is up at the same time, but the lease says she needs to give 2 months notice that she doesn't want to renew or she has to pay the extra month, and she's worried they'll make her pay it or take her to court. Does this count as an extenuating circumstance that would make it okay for her to not give the 2 months notice?
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Postby TenantNet » Fri May 03, 2013 1:35 am

We can't cite Maryland Law, but we can give you our opinion.

Stuff happens. But here the LL is on notice. Make sure it is well documented with written police reports and letters to the LL telling him what has happened. Keep records like crazy. Also document when you've spoken to the manager and the lack of response.

From what you have said, it sounds like the LL is being negligent as to security in the building or complex. That could be grounds for breaking a lease. The LL can't prevent all crimes, but once they are aware they need to take reasonable preventive and safety measures. Of course what is reasonable can be argued.

However, you say the police installed cameras. The LL could say they were being cooperative.

Again, I can't cite Maryland law, but in general notice periods are for when a tenant wants to leave before a lease is up. Once it is up, it's up, and I do not think a LL can demand extra months rent when the lease has expired. She might be limited by a 30 days notice if the local law has such a provision for month-to-month tenants.

I would also be concerned about the security deposit. They might try to hold onto that. Some tenants hold back on the last month's rent with the idea it will be covered by the deposit. It's quite common, especially if there are no real damages the LL can claim. LLs will say this is not how things are supposed to work, but I've seen this quite a lot.

Best thing is to have the LL give a written release so to avoid any of these questions. In face of the ongoing criminal activity, the LL might want to be accommodating.
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