Constructive eviction is when a tenant is forced to vacate a rental property due to the landlord’s actions or inactions that make the property uninhabitable or significantly interfere with the tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property.
This occurs when the landlord breaches their obligations under the lease or rental agreement by failing to provide essential services or by engaging in conduct that substantially interferes with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment of the property.
Examples of such actions by the landlord might include:
If the tenant can demonstrate that the landlord’s actions or inactions have made the property uninhabitable, they may be able to claim constructive eviction as a defense against any eviction proceedings brought by the landlord or terminate the lease agreement and seek damages for any losses incurred.
How Can Constructive Eviction Occur?
Constructive eviction can occur when a landlord breaches their obligation to provide a habitable and safe living space for the tenant.
Some examples of constructive eviction include:
- Failure to make necessary repairs: If a landlord fails to address serious maintenance issues in a timely manner, such as a leaking roof or faulty electrical wiring, and as a result, the tenant’s health and safety are jeopardized, the tenant may have a claim for constructive eviction.
- Harassment: If a landlord engages in conduct that is intended to harass or intimidate the tenant, such as making threats or entering the rental unit without permission, the tenant may be forced to vacate the property and may have a claim for constructive eviction.
- Interference with essential services: If a landlord disrupts essential services such as water or electricity or makes it impossible for the tenant to use common areas of the property, such as laundry facilities or parking spaces, the tenant may be able to claim constructive eviction.
If a residential property is uninhabitable, the tenant may be able to terminate the lease agreement and seek damages from the landlord.
The specific steps the tenant needs to take in scenarios like these depend on the laws in their jurisdiction and the terms of the lease agreement.
In some cases, the tenant may need to provide written notice to the landlord of the issue and give them an opportunity to make repairs or address the problem. If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant may be able to terminate the lease agreement and move out, or in some cases, may be able to withhold rent until the issue is resolved.
As a tenant, you should speak with a legal professional in your area to understand your options before taking any major steps.
When Can I Claim Constructive Eviction?
You can claim constructive eviction when your landlord’s actions or inactions make the property uninhabitable or significantly interfere with your use and enjoyment of the property.
Some of the most common grounds for a claim of constructive eviction include the following:
- Breach of the implied warranty of habitability: Every lease or rental agreement comes with an implied warranty of habitability, which means that the landlord is responsible for providing the tenant with a safe and habitable living space. If the landlord breaches this obligation by failing to maintain the property or address serious maintenance issues, the tenant may be able to claim constructive eviction.
- Interference with quiet enjoyment: Tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment of their rental property, which means they should be able to use and enjoy the property without unreasonable interference from the landlord. If the landlord engages in conduct that substantially interferes with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment, such as by making excessive noise or disrupting essential services, the tenant may have a claim for constructive eviction.
- Harassment or intimidation: Landlords have a duty to treat their tenants with respect and not to engage in behavior intended to harass, intimidate or discriminate against them. If a landlord engages in such conduct, the tenant may have a claim for constructive eviction.
Tenant’s use and enjoyment rights refer to the right of a tenant to use and enjoy their rental property without unreasonable interference from the landlord. These rights may include the right to quiet enjoyment, the right to essential services such as water and heat, the right to have necessary repairs made in a timely manner, and the right to privacy.
If the landlord breaches these obligations, the tenant may be able to claim constructive eviction as a defense against any eviction proceedings brought by the landlord or terminate the lease agreement and seek damages for any losses incurred.
Can a Disruptive Neighbor Be Grounds for Constructive Eviction?
A disruptive neighbor can occasionally be grounds for a claim of constructive eviction, depending on the severity and duration of the disruption.
If the neighbor’s behavior substantially interferes with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment of the rental property, such as by creating excessive noise with loud parties, engaging in illegal activity, such as dealing drugs, or threatening or harassing the tenant, the tenant may be able to claim constructive eviction.
In such situations, tenants have certain rights. For example, they have the right to request that their landlord take action to address the neighbor’s behavior. If the neighbor’s conduct violates local noise ordinances or other laws, the tenant may be able to file a complaint with local law enforcement or the relevant city agency.
In some cases, the tenant may also be able to take legal action against the neighbor directly, such as by seeking a restraining order or filing a lawsuit for damages.
In some cases, the landlord may not be responsible for the neighbor’s behavior, and the tenant may need to take other steps to address the situation. In any case, tenants need to document the disruption and any efforts they have made to resolve the situation. This may be useful if they need to pursue legal action or seek compensation for any losses incurred.
Should I Consult an Attorney If I Want to Claim Constructive Eviction?
If you are considering claiming constructive eviction, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law.
A landlord-tenant lawyer can help you understand your rights and obligations under the law and advise you on the best course of action for your situation.
An attorney can help you determine whether you have a viable claim for constructive eviction and can help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself. A lawyer can also represent you in negotiations with your landlord or in court proceedings, if necessary.
In addition, an attorney can help you understand the potential consequences of claiming constructive eviction, such as the impact on your credit or rental history, and can help you assess your options for finding alternative housing.
If you are experiencing problems with your landlord or rental property and believe you may have a claim for constructive eviction, act quickly and seek legal advice as soon as possible. Speaking with a landlord-tenant lawyer can help you understand your options and protect your rights.
LegalMatch’s online legal matching service can help connect you with a landlord-tenant lawyer who is experienced in handling cases involving constructive eviction.
Simply fill out a brief online questionnaire outlining your case’s details. We will then match you with a qualified landlord-tenant lawyer in your area who is best suited to handle your case.