How can I break my lease, without penalty, if I fear for my life to live there
My car has been broken into; a foot print on my front door. I work nights and bring home cash. I fear for my life. My only safety was a cop that lived next door. But he recently moved out cause his car and house were broken into.
This is a difficult situation. I'm afraid that what you've written doesn't add up to enough to get out without penalty, at least not yet.
The key to any landlord-tenant dispute is habitability: when the rental unit no longer provides one or more of its essential functions, the basic promise every landlord makes (like it or not, and no matter what language is or isn't in a lease), that the unit is a fit place to live, has been broken. Whether that's seen as a breach of contract by the landlord, or a "constructive eviction," it give the tenant the right to move out with no liability for future rent. The difficulty is that the question of whether or not that has happened gets decided in court, after the fact, and if you're wrong, it's an expensive mistake.
The basic function at issue here, of course, is physical security. The burglary of your car is probably no more than borderline proof of your case here, and not at all if it happened on the street (as opposed to a parking lot or garage on the premises). If the building doors are broken and the landlord refuses to fix them, you might have a better argument. Otherwise, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until "something happens."
Unfortunately, in the circumstances you describe, you may not be able to break the lease without penalty. There is something called the "implied warranty of habitability," which means that premises must be safely inhabitable; there is another called the "covenant of quiet enjoyment," which means that tenants must be able to make use of their premises with without undue disturbance. Either one could potentially be used as the basis for damages or to break a lease for safety related issues--IF the landlord is reponsible and has control. If it's simply that it's a bad neighborhood, that is no the landlord's responsibility and its not something he can control; ergo, it's not a basis for breaking the lease. If the criminals are other tenants, that's another story.
The only exceptions *might* be if the landlord completely misrepresented the neighborhood to you and you were not familiar with it and had no opportunity to investigate the neighborhood before moving in (so you had to rely totally on what the landlord said); or if the landlord is not taking the most basic security precaustions, such as by having locks on exterior doors or providing light in common spaces. If you think either of these situations apply--or that the criminals are other tenants--then you should consult with an attorney to see if you have good grounds to get out of the lease.