In tenant and landlord relationships, there are laws in place to protect both parties. However, one of the laws that specifically exists in order to protect the tenant is the warranty of habitability. This official-sounding phrase is the name of a law that is upheld for almost all types of leases.
Very simply put, the warranty of habitability states that all residential leases must fulfill certain criteria that allows them to qualify as a habitable environment for humans. These criteria must be met at the time when the tenant first moves in. It must also remain this way throughout the length of the lease. This law is only applicable to residential leases, meaning commercial leases are not covered. Generally speaking, it can be applied to any sort of dwelling that is used for living purposes.
However, one gray area that it does not apply to is condominiums. So keep in mind that anyone living in condos is not going to be protected under the warranty.
There is no definitive list of what this warranty covers because the specifics vary from state to state. However, there are certain criteria that are seen more commonly, if not in every state, which would violate this law.
One of the features legislated is for a residential rental to have is access to potable and hot water. During the cold months, this law also requires buildings to have access to sufficient heating. Fortunately, heat is not the only utility that is covered in the warranty. Another requirement is access to working electricity. Operational smoke detectors in the apartment are required by law.
The last common thing that is included in every state across the board, is access to a working bathroom. At the very minimum, it should be a sanitary environment that is free of any rodent or insect infestation.
Even if a rental lacks some of these conditions when the tenant originally views it, this does not exclude it from this law. Regardless of whatever clause is included in the lease, a court is almost guaranteed to rule in favor of the tenant. So, even if there is a verbal agreement or a written agreement that doesn’t mention any of these criteria, the tenant is still usually protected by the warranty of habitability.
If required elements become unavailable due to landlord error, then the landlord is responsible for addressing these issues right away. However, if the tenant is the one who is responsible for creating any uninhabitable conditions, then they are the ones who are responsible for repairing it. Ultimately, the tenant needs to return the property to the proper state. Maintenance responsibilities are something that should be outlined in any standard lease.
When a repair is necessary, the tenant should immediately contact the landlord about the issue. From there, the landlord will be given a reasonable amount of time to fix the issue. While there is no set definition of how long a reasonable amount of time is, most places view it as no more than 30 days. However, depending on what the issue is, a reasonable amount of time could be significantly less or significantly more. After a reasonable amount of time has passed without any action from the landlord, there are several options for the tenant to take.
The first of these options is to repair the problem themselves or hire a professional to repair it for them. The tenant can calculate the costs that were associated with the repair. They can then subtract it from their next month’s rent. The law should uphold this option as long as the cost of the repair does not exceed a full month’s worth of rent
Tenants can also choose to terminate their lease and move out of the place. They would not be required to give the typical 30-day notice if this termination of the lease is due to uninhabitable living conditions, and should not be responsible for paying any termination fees. However, this would put them in a situation where they would not have a place to live. They may also need to find another rental in a very short period of time.
A renter’s last option is to sue the landlord over the uninhabitable conditions. They can either choose to sue for damages or sue in order to make the landlord conduct the repairs.
Rather than having to go through any of these inconvenient and emotionally draining actions, a resident could instead rely on the premium apartments offered by Blueground. This real estate tech company is present in nine cities. It has a long history of providing reliable and comfortable apartments to thousands of students, business professionals, and foreigners. Tenants can rest easy knowing that Blueground is there to take care of all of their short-term (30+ days) and long-term living needs.