The Implied Warranty Of Habitability
Most states have adopted a legal doctrine called “the implied warranty of habitability.” Under this doctrine, if the landlord fails to provide any of the “basics” required by the housing or health codes, the tenant may simply stop paying rent until the landlord makes the necessary repairs.
If the landlord sues to evict the tenant for nonpayment of rent, the tenant may invoke the landlord’s breach of the implied warranty as an “affirmative defense.” If the tenant prove the breach, the court might set a “reasonable rent” that is lower than the rent she agreed to pay. If the tenant pays that lower rent, then you lose the eviction lawsuit.
First Contact Your Local And State Housing Agencies.
If a landlord fails to repair something that is “basic” such as fixing a leaking roof, the tenant might call the city or county housing code inspection agency. It’s their job to make sure that landlords obey the local housing code. Plus, if you take your landlord to court, you may be able to use the housing violation (if the landlord is convicted or pays the fine), you may be able use this in court to support your case.
If you have rats, mice, or insect infestation in your a contact your city or county health department. Generally, they act quicker than the housing inspector, because they don’t want anyone to become sick and they don’t want the problem to spread to other local dwellings. Also, fire inspectors tend to act quickly, so if there is dangerous wiring or flammable materials lying about, consider contacting the fire department.
Best to be legally prepared when dealing with your landlord. You don’t always have to consult with a lawyer on basic legal documents such “Notice To Landlord of Needed Repairs,” “Intent To Vacate” and more.
Repair And Deduct Law
Some states have laws that permit the tenant to “repair and deduct.” This means that the tenant may pay to have the repairs made and then deduct the cost from the next rental payment.