Click here to get this post in PDF
An implied warranty of habitability is a warranty most state laws recognize which mandates that all residential properties marketed for rent must be fit and habitable and must stay so throughout the duration of the lease. The ones responsible for the compliance of this law are the landlords or the owners of the property for lease. On that note, they have the duty to ensure that specific standards are met for a property to be officially considered habitable.
Generally, an implied warranty of habitability is both an added obligation on the part of the landlord and a given right to the tenant to ensure that the place for lease is truly fit for living purposes. Aside from being mandated by law, the warranty may also be recognized in building codes with the varied minimum requirement relating to services like plumbing, water, and heat. On top of these, there may be additional standards that need to be met for a property to be classified as a safe and decent place to live in. First American Home Warranty offers comprehensive plans to offer peace of mind. It’s wise to look for home warranty providers operating in your area as they’ll have contacts with local contractors who they can call out to your property should you be experiencing a problem with something. First American has operated in states including Maryland, California, and many in between for over three decades so you can trust them to provide you with the services that you need in your region.
Everything Else About Implied Warranty of Habitability
Habitability ensures that a place is good enough to live in. Thus, the warranty of habitability will only apply to units, apartments, houses, and other properties utilized for living purposes. Properties used for commercial purposes are thereby not required to be compliant to the clause of habitability.
If any of the following conditions are present, then a property will be considered inhabitable:
- Lack of access to heat especially during winter;
- Lack of drinkable or warm water;
- Absence of electricity;
- Non-installation of smoke detectors throughout the property;
- Busted bathroom or toilet facilities;
- Signs of poor or absence of proper sanitation;
- Infestation of insects or rodents; and,
- Violation of building codes;
Even if the property is already compliant with the conditions to be habitable, the warranty still mandates that this should be maintained throughout the lease’s duration. Hence, if during the course of the lease, the following hazards are present, then the law automatically considers the warranty as breached and on that note, tenants can opt for legal actions with the help of their trusted tenant lawyer in Los Angeles or whichever California city you are in:
- fire hazards, gas leaks, electrical problems;
- health hazards such as insect or rodent infestations, unsafe ventilation, dust or mold contamination, use of lead paint and other unsanitary conditions;
- water damage, plumbing issues, or flooding;
- unreliable water furnaces and fixtures;
- safety hazards such as ongoing renovations, unstable structure and/or roof, loose plasters, inadequate security locks, and faulty railings and windows;
- other conditions that make the place inappropriate to live in such as disturbance caused by unreasonable noise
Meanwhile, any claim that there has been a breach of the warranty can be disputed if the landlord is able to prove:
- that the tenant failed to keep the rented place sanitary and clean;
- that the tenant failed at proper waste disposal;
- that the tenant’s negligence exposed the property to hazards;
- that the tenant wantonly and willfully defaced, impaired, damaged, or destroyed the rented property;
Although the law varies from state to state, as a general rule, landlords are required to provide immediate solutions to warranty breaches and violations to be compliant with the warranty of habitability provided that the breach complaint is substantial.
For a breach of the warranty to exist, the tenant must be able to prove that a substantial defect at the rented property is present. To begin with, landlords are only mandated to meet the “bare living requirements”. On that note, if the defects are proven insubstantial or noncompliant with the codes, a breach claim may be dismissed. The law also makes it clear that habitability does not mean the landlord has to transform the property into an aesthetically perfect and cozy living place.
In other words, there has to be a factual determination to prove that there really has been a warranty of habitability breach and it shall be a case-to-case basis. Determining if a condition is indeed a breach is something tenant lawyers are expert at doing.
Implied Warranty of Habitability – Legal Implications
Although the warranty of habitability is only applicable to residential leases, condominiums are usually an exemption to the rule. If the landlord is unable to comply with the conditions of habitability, the law nonetheless gives reasonable time for him to address the problem. That being said, tenants are also encouraged to inform their landlords about potential issues on time and give enough time for the fixing, i.e. usually a maximum of 30 days. If the landlord continues to neglect the issue, then a breach is officially recognized. In such cases, tenants can file a lawsuit claim with the help of their tenant lawyers or the tenant can resort to the following actions:
- Fund and act on the necessary repairs and demand for a refund or discount of the same amount from the rent;
- Withhold the rent because of the unattended breach. Although it may be stipulated in the law that tenants cannot withhold their payment unless they have vacated the rented property, the best tenant lawyer will be able to prove that the withholding act is with basis if need be;
- File a lawsuit and if the tenant will win the case, he will be entitled to damage claims that may cover repair reimbursement, rent refund, compensation for physical injuries or emotional distress, punitive damage claims, and lease termination claims; or a court order will force the landlord to immediately address the issues.
At the core, an implied warranty of habitability cannot be renounced but the lease provisions that are inconsistent with the conditions proving that the property is habitable can be voided by the court. Now, if a warranty breach takes place, the landlord has at all times the right to be appropriately informed right away and is entitled to have ample time for the repair. Although it may vary between states, the law generally gives landlords a maximum of 30 days to entirely address the violations and breaches.
Image Source: Rawpixel.com