Can I Get Out of My Lease If I Feel Unsafe?

Can I Get Out of My Lease If I Feel Unsafe?

Feeling unsafe in your living environment is a distressing experience that can leave you desperate for a way out. However, when it comes to breaking your apartment lease early due to safety concerns, the situation becomes complex. Not all reasons for feeling unsafe will legally justify terminating your lease without consequences. This article explores the factors considered in such situations and outlines possible courses of action.

Understanding Safety Concerns in Lease Termination

The decision to allow early lease termination due to safety concerns depends on several factors:

  1. Nature of the Safety Concern: It's crucial to identify what specifically is making you feel unsafe. Is it a structural issue with the apartment, a problem with neighbors, or something else?
  2. Landlord’s Responsibility: Has the landlord failed to address a safety concern that they are responsible for? Their liability plays a significant role in determining if you can break your lease.
  3. Justifiability of the Concern: Are your feelings of unsafety subjective, or would most people feel the same in your situation? Objective, justifiable concerns are taken more seriously.
  4. Landlord’s Efforts to Resolve the Issue: If the landlord has made genuine efforts to solve the problem, it may affect your ability to legally break the lease.
  5. Connection to Disability: If your feeling of insecurity stems from a disability recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the landlord has failed to make reasonable accommodations, this could be a valid reason for lease termination.

Scenarios Where Feeling Unsafe May Justify Breaking a Lease

Neighborhood Safety

Feeling unsafe due to the neighborhood's condition might not always be considered a valid reason to break your lease, especially if the landlord has taken steps to secure the building. However, discussing your concerns with your landlord could lead to a compassionate resolution. Some landlords may agree to terminate the lease early, potentially with a fee.

Threats from Neighbors or Landlord

Immediate safety threats from within your building should be addressed right away, prioritizing your safety above lease obligations. If your landlord fails to resolve such internal threats, it could justify lease termination under the warranty of habitability.

Structural or Apartment Issues

Serious apartment or building issues that compromise your safety (e.g., faulty locks, lack of essential utilities, severe mold) can be grounds for lease termination. Documentation of these issues strengthens your case should you need to defend your decision legally.

Key Tips for Navigating Early Lease Termination Due to Safety Concerns

  1. Communication: Clearly and promptly communicate your concerns to your landlord. Documentation of these communications can be crucial.
  2. Understand Local Laws: Lease termination laws vary by state and locality. Familiarize yourself with your rights and obligations under local landlord-tenant laws.
  3. Gather Evidence: Document everything related to your safety concerns and any communication with your landlord. This evidence is vital in legal disputes.
  4. Reasonableness: Ensure that your safety concerns are reasonable and not something the landlord has already addressed or is beyond their control.


While feeling unsafe is a compelling reason to want out of a lease, it's not always legally sufficient to break a lease without penalty. Each case is unique, and the outcome often depends on the specifics of the situation, the landlord's response to safety issues, and the legal framework in your jurisdiction. If you find yourself in this predicament, consider all possible solutions and seek professional legal advice to navigate your lease termination as smoothly and safely as possible. Remember, your safety is paramount, and there are legal protections in place to support tenants facing genuine safety threats.

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