The warranty of habitability is the formal name for one of the most basic rights every tenant has: the right to live in a safe and comfortable environment. When landlords violate this right, whether negligently or maliciously, they can cause serious harm, and begin a potentially major legal conflict. Here are a few things you need to know about the warranty of habitability:
- You cannot contract around the warranty of habitability
- The warranty of habitability is a legal principle that protects all tenants, regardless of any other terms or conditions in their lease agreement. This does not stop some landlords from trying to escape liability for unlivable conditions in their own apartments. If a landlord tries to tell you that you do not have a right to a safe and liveable apartment, do not trust them.
- Landlords must repair defects in a timely fashion
- The warranty of habitability does not become an issue right away. A landlord always must have an opportunity to repair the defective conditions in an apartment that makes it unlivable. It is only when a landlord fails to repair defects, such as broken utilities or non-functional appliances, in a timely fashion that it becomes a legal issue.
- You do not need to live with infestations
- Some people believe that if they are dealing with termites, cockroaches, rats, or other pests in their apartments, that it is their problem to deal with. However, an important part of the warranty of habitability is freedom from these sorts of unwanted guests. A landlord who fails to deal with an infestation in a timely manner is just as negligent as a landlord who fails to fix a broken water heater or who fails to get the plumbing repaired.
- You are not liable for rent if you can no longer live in your apartment
- When the conditions in an apartment become unlivable, you are no longer responsible for paying rent to live there. This sort of situation is known, in legal terms, as a constructive eviction, and is seen as being forced out by a negligent landlord. This means you do not need to worry about staying in an unlivable apartment out of fear that you will be responsible for continuing to pay rent for it.
- You should get a lawyer to help with warranty of habitability disputes
- It is one thing to say that the law protects tenants from landlords that refuse to maintain livable conditions in their apartments. Unfortunately, enforcing a tenant’s rights often means seeking relief from the courts. That is why you should always contact a lawyer with knowledge of landlord-tenant disputes near you who can help you with your case.
If you have questions regarding your rights as a landlord or tenant, you should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling these matters. A New York landlord-tenant lawyer, who is experienced in handling landlord-tenant cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you are facing a dispute over unpaid rent, lease violations, or other similar issues, contact the Suffolk County landlord-tenant attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.