A breach of lease is essentially the same thing as a breach of contract. Because a lease is a type of contract, the legal analysis does not change too much, but there are sometimes special statutory laws applicable in interpreting a lease agreement.
In general, a legally actionable breach of lease or contract occurs when a (1) party is under an absolute duty to perform, this (2) absolute duty of performance has not been discharged, and there is a (3) failure to perform in accordance with the contract’s terms. The non-breaching party, in turn, must be willing and able to perform the terms of the contract
In conjunction with this contract law analysis, several statutory considerations can complicate the inquiry — e.g., unlawful detainer, tenancy at sufferance, holdover, implied warranties of habitability, and even Conversion: Property Theft, Destruction, etc. Further, in my experience, it is becoming more commonplace that individuals enter into Lease-Buy agreements, wherein the Tenant leases property from the Landlord for a term and at the conclusion of the term has an Option to purchase the property. Whether this is a cause of the current economic woes, I am unsure. What I am sure of, though, is that such agreements can be very complicated and are very susceptible to judicial scrutiny given their complexity. To give an example, one case I have may very well live or die on whether a Court construes that a specific paragraph regarding termination is ambiguous. If the Court concludes in the affirmative, then the Plaintiff’s petition for Breach of Lease may very well be dismissed.
Because of the increased number of renters and lessors across the country and throughout Saint Louis, it’s a safe bet that more lease disputes will occur.