5 Ways to Break Your LeaseOn July 15, 2020 by Elyse
Have you just been offered a new job—in a city across the country? Maybe you moved in with your significant other after a few idyllic dates, and three months later, the honeymoon is over—but your lease isn’t. Or perhaps you’re haunted by your new wife’s deceased husband—when he tells you to vacate the premises, you better scram.
Don’t stay in a house that doesn’t feel like home. If your landlord won’t budge despite these compelling reasons, the inspirational stories below will show you how to transform yourself into the tenant from hell. With Second Glance History’s money-back guarantee, your landlord will be more than happy to see you on your merry way. You’ll be house hunting before you can say “give me back my security deposit!”
1. Invent anything at all.
Extricate yourself from your living arrangements while at the same time bringing your crackpot ideas—I mean, groundbreaking innovations—to life.
An amusing case came before Judge Bray at Wandsworth County-court yesterday, when a Mrs. Young, who lets apartments, made a claim against a Frenchman, named Maggora. Mrs. Young stated that three or four months after Maggora took her rooms he said he wanted to make a model of an invention that a talking-machine company was going to take over.
The plaintiff added that he took 26 keys out of her piano without permission, used the carpets, pieces of parchment, and anything he could get hold of, and stripped the walls and put plans on them. After he had built the model in the room it required three people to remove it.
The judge adjourned the case in order that the defendant might either put the piano right or provide a new one.– The Evening Express, December 8, 1908
Moral of the story: Never let personal property stop you from moving into a new apartment—or unleashing your inner genius.
2. Snore like a prize ox.
What’s worse than snoring like a bear? I bet your landlord won’t want to find out.
A young man entered the box [at the West London Police-court] and stated that he occupied a flat for three years. A lodger in the room over him snored when in bed like a prize ox. He could not sleep in consequence of the noise. He wished to know if he should proceed against the tenant or the landlord.
Mr Curtis Bennett: What for? To prevent a man from snoring? I have had a great many applications, but never against a tenant for snoring too loud.
The Applicant said he did not want to leave the place, nor could he sleep in the kitchen for three years to prevent being disturbed.
Mr Curtis Bennett: It is one of the benefits of flat life. There have been one or two examples lately, and this is another.
The Applicant also stated that the snoring lodger held his flat for three years.
Mr Curtis Bennett: Go to your landlord and see if he will release you.
The Applicant: Can you give me a summons against him?
Mr Curtis Bennett: Against the man for snoring?
The Applicant: No, against the landlord.
Mr Curtis Bennett said he could not assist the applicant.– The South Wales Echo, March 18, 1895
This is disheartening news for those of us hoping for a legal remedy to our sleepless nights. However, it at least sets a good precedent for finding quieter lodgings.
3. Duke it out in your own Star Wars.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s. . . a property dispute!
. . . a meteorite which fell on an American farm. . . was claimed by the ground landlord, because the lease reserved to him all minerals and metals on the land. It was also claimed by the tenant on the score that it was not in the ground when the lease was made. The landlord then required it as “flying game.”
The tenant, however, pleaded that it had neither wings nor feathers, and asserted his right to it as ground game. While the dispute was raging, the revenue officers seized it as an article which had been introduced into the country without payment of duty.– The South Wales Daily News, December 8, 1897
It’s probably for the best that neither of them had access to lightsabers and/or missile defense systems. Still, had this tenant wished on that shooting star for a release from his lease, it surely would’ve come true.
4. Challenge stereotypes.
This landlord no doubt thought he was renting to a sweet, little old lady who would fill his house with the smell of warm cookies wafting from the oven. Never judge a book by its cover.
. . . A few weeks ago, he explained, he let a room to an old lady, who shortly afterwards brought in a man and two children to reside with her. Notices to quit were no good, for she tore them up and threatened to treat him the same way.
Nor did the local health inspector, who called and ordered them to leave, fare much better, for the recalcitrant lodger simply ignored him.
The landlord again remonstrated, but the only answer he got was, “If you interfere we will drop something on you and lay you low. We are going out just when we like.”
The applicant was advised to serve a notice to quit, keeping a copy, and if the lodger failed to depart to apply to the court for an ejectment order.– The Evening Express, June 5, 1908
She may be a bad tenant, but she’d be a badass grandma.
5. Cook late at night.
I tend to crave nachos slathered in artificial cheese after 10 p.m., but to each their own:
A Newport dock labourer named James Murphy, who had been staying at a lodging-house at 55, Dock-street, was before the magistrates on Monday charged with assaulting his landlord, Morton William Miller. Mr. Lyndon Moore appeared for the defence.
Miller said he declined to allow defendant to cook chops so late as 10.40 on Sunday night, November 4. Defendant took up the frying-pan, and hit him on the forehead, causing a wound 2½ inches long, extending down to the bone.
Mr. Lyndon Moore, in cross-examination, put some pointed questions about the part which Mrs. Sullivan, manageress of the house, played, and the uses made of a poker, which was nearly red hot.
“Wasn’t your cut produced with the poker in the struggle?” asked Mr. Moore of the complainant.
“This is most amusing, Mr. Moore,” responded Miller. “In fact, he hit Mrs. Sullivan with the frying-pan. It is three charges there ought to be against him, not one.”
Defendant said when the bother began someone “outed” the lamp, and he was attacked with the hot poker.
The Bench in the result fined him 40s., or a month’s imprisonment.– The Evening Express, November 13, 1906
Even by early 20th-century standards, I’m still struggling to understand which part of this story qualifies as “amusing.” However, one thing that’s certainly not? This living situation. While Second Glance History does not advocate assaulting your landlord with a frying pan and/or hot poker to break your lease, cooking at inconvenient hours—and not sharing those meals—should do the trick.
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Welcome to Second Glance History! This blog seeks to uncover the people and the stories forgotten by history and give them another read through a modern lens. Join me every week as we examine the differences that divide and the common threads that connect the then to the now.