As a renter, you’re entitled to certain things that might not explicitly be stated in your lease. It may not always be clear what these rights are. We’re going to do our best to make sure you know about as many of them as possible.
Implied warranty of what?
Habitability refers to the overall “liveableness” of a residence. The implied warranty of habitability requires landlords to ensure that their properties are in compliance with both local building codes and state statutes protecting tenants.
The fact that it is “implied” means that it may not be directly stated in your lease or any other form of contract, but it is still expected to be provided. In other words, habitability is a common law right.
Who decides the rules?
Depending on what state you’re living in, there are two main dictators of habitability:
- State & local housing laws: include housing codes related to basic rights that include repairs, electricity, functioning bathrooms, and more.
- Court decisions: in certain states, take tenant protection a step further by requiring landlords to comply with habitability conditions beyond basic codes. For example, if the residence is in a very wet climate, this could include waterproofing.
What exactly is included?
This changes by state, but there are some general statutes that tend to apply universally. Some of them are:
- Drinkable water
- Hot water
- Heating during cold climate
- Smoke detectors
- Functioning bathroom and toilet
- Insect and/or rodent protection
- Quality of floors, walls, and roof
You can find specific housing codes for your state here.
Another fact worth noting is that renting out an apartment ‘as-is’ could actually be a violation of this warrantee. If any of these are not being provided, even if you did rent a place ‘as-is,’ you could have grounds to break your lease or take legal action.
What does it all mean?
Put bluntly, the duty to pay rent is conditioned on the landlord’s duty to make the property habitable. This does not mean that you can stop paying rent if you feel that your rights are being violated, though. It simply means that if you do experience decreased habitability in some form and notify your landlord, he or she is required to repair the issue in a reasonable amount of time, which tends to hover around 30 days, depending on the severity of the situation.
If you do feel like your apartment does not meet the basic standards of habitability, let your landlord or property manager know immediately so that they can take the appropriate action. Typically, this goes very well! If not, you can likely use this as grounds to break your lease. As always, we’ll be there to help.