An implied warranty of habitability is a warranty implied by law in all residential leases that the premises are fit and habitable for human habitation and that the premises will remain fit and habitable throughout the duration of the lease.
What Conditions Violate the Implied Warranty of Habitability?
The conditions that violate this warranty vary depending on the state and jurisdiction the premises are located. Generally, a landlord can violate this warranty by failing to provide access to:
- Drinkable water and hot water
- Heat during cold weather
- Working electricity
- A Smoke Detector
- Working bathroom and toilet
- A sanitary premises, including the removal of insect or rodent infestation
- Or for violations of building codes
A tenant has the responsibility to repair any uninhabitable condition caused by the tenant.
What Types of Leases Do the Implied Warranty of Habitability Apply To?
This warranty applies only to residential leases, not commercial leases. Generally, this warranty applies to apartments, houses, or other types of dwellings rented for living purposes. But the implied warranty of habitability generally does not apply to condominiums.
Can the Implied Warranty of Habitability be Waived?
Generally, the implied warranty of habitability cannot be waived and lease provisions inconsistent with the right to live in a habitable premise can be voided by a court. So renting an apartment 'as is' may violate this warranty.
What Should I Do if a Uninhabitable Condition Exists?
Notify the landlord immediately of the uninhabitable condition and request that the condition be repaired. The landlord must be given a 'reasonable time' to repair the uninhabitable condition. Generally, it is unreasonable for the landlord to take more than 30 days to repair the defect, but a 'reasonable time' depends on the nature of defect.
What Can Be Done if the Landlord Does Not Repair an Uninhabitable Condition?
Generally the tenant may do one or a combination of the following:
- Move out and terminate the lease: If the landlord does not make the repairs within a reasonable time the tenant may move out and terminate the lease.
- Repair and deduct: The tenant can make the repairs himself and deduct the repair costs from the next month's rent. The repairs cannot cost more than one months rent to utilize this option.
- Sue for damages: The tenant may sue the landlord for damages from the date of the landlord¿s knowledge of the breach of warranty of habitability. The measure of damages is generally the difference between the value of the rented premises in its uninhabitable condition and its fair market rental value.
- Sue to force the landlord to make repairs: The tenant can get a court order forcing the landlord to make the repairs. Courts are unlikely to utilize this option because it involves costly court supervision to ensure the repairs have been made.
Generally, you cannot stop paying rent as long as you remain on the property.
Should I Consult a Real Estate Lawyer about My Warranty of Habitability Issue?
Landlord-tenant law is very complicated and varies from state to state. An experienced real property attorney can help you understand your state's implied warranty of habitability laws. A real property lawyer can also represent you in court if you sue for damages or repairs.