Most jurisdictions read residential leases to include an implied warranty of habitability. This warranty requires landlords to keep their property "habitable," even if the lease does specifically require them to make repairs. Furthermore, the warranty conditions a tenant's duty to pay rent on the landlord's duty to maintain a habitable living space. This makes it easier for tenants to get landlords to make repairs. This warranty is usually coupled with rules prohibiting landlords from retaliating against tenants who complain housing code violations.
This warranty is controversial. Supporters argue that it protects poor tenants from abusive landlords. Detractors argue that it drives up housing prices, encourages landlords to abandon old buildings, and turns landlords into public utilities.
See Rent Control; Landlord and Tenant Law.
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
A legal doctrine that requires landlords to offer and maintain livable premises for their tenants. If a landlord fails to provide habitable housing, tenants in most states may legally withhold rent or take other measures, including fixing the problem and deducting the cost from the rent, or moving out. (See also: constructive eviction
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:17 pm