Q. My Buffalo, NY apartment was damaged in a fire. Can I terminate my lease and move out?
A. This will depend on the condition of the apartment and the terms of your lease. Tenants have the right to vacate their apartments and cancel the lease if:
1. The building is destroyed or damaged (e.g., fire, hurricane),
2. The building is untenable and unfit for occupancy,
3. The damage is not due to the tenant’s fault or negligence, and
4. There is no lease clause or other written agreement preventing the tenant from canceling the lease.
Landlords should use lease clauses that:
- Require the tenant to give the landlord prompt written notice of fire damage or a dangerous or defective condition.
- Require that the tenant pay rent for the usable part of the apartment if damaged.
- The landlord is not responsible for delays due to settling insurance claims, obtaining estimates, labor and supply problems or any other cause not fully under the landlord’s control.
- The landlord has the right to cancel the lease.
- The building can be either demolished or rebuilt.
The landlord has the option of what will be repaired or replaced in the building.