What is 'Implied Warranty Of Habitability'

An implied warranty of habitability is an unstated guarantee that a rental property meets basic living and safety standards in order for occupation and for the duration of the occupancy.

BREAKING DOWN 'Implied Warranty Of Habitability'

An implied warranty only applies to leases or rentals for residential properties, not commercial properties. When a tenant rents an apartment, for example, an implied warranty of habitability means that the unit will have hot water, a working electrical system, heat in the winter, lockable doors and windows, a working toilet and smoke detectors, and be free of pests like roaches and rats, among other conditions. However, an employee renting an office space will not have an implied warranty of habitability because the employee will not be living in the office.

Local building codes outline the standards that rental units must meet. As a general rule of thumb, an Implied Warranty of Habitability means that the landlord has provided:

  • Drinkable water
  • Hot water
  • Heat during cold weather
  • Working electricity
  • A Smoke Detector
  • Working bathroom and toilet
  • Sanitary premises, including the removal of insect or rodent infestation
  • Is up-to-do date for building codes

What happens when an implied warranty of habitability is not met?

One major advantage of renting from a landlord is that a tenant is never responsible for ensuring that the warranty of habitability is met on their own. Instead, it is the landlord’s legal responsibility to make sure that the warranty is met and to take steps to make habitability possible as soon as they are aware of any issues. A landlord whose rental units do not meet these conditions is known as a slumlord. Tenants living in uninhabitable units have legal remedies to force landlords to meet their obligations.

However, there are a few legalities to consider. Firstly, renting an apartment or place of occupancy in full awareness of the issues that contradict habitability may violate the warranty. In other words, one cannot rent an apartment known to be without hot water in order to save money and then try to sue the landlord later. Secondly, landlords do have a legal amount of reasonable time, generally considered no more than 30 days, to repair or address any issues, although legal follow-up can be difficult. And lastly, tenants still have to continue to pay rent if they are still living on the premise, even without the warranty.

Tenants who have landlords who refuse to meet the warranty have the right to terminate any existing lease, make necessary repairs that are no more than one month’s rent cost, or sue the landlord. 

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