Can we break our lease due to an undisclosed cockroach infestation?

We signed our lease about 3 months ago. At the walk-through, we noticed a couple of bugs in the hall closet, leasing manager said it would “be taken care of” and sprayed once a week for the 3 weeks until we move in. We were not told the bugs were cockroaches, until a few weeks after moving in, the pest control (coming every week) told me.. Since moving in our normally healthy 1 year old has come down with numerous colds and viruses, (including diarrhea for 2 weeks) with barely a couple days time without a cough or fever. We firmly believe it is due to the roaches. What are our rights?

Asked on October 22, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

All leases have what's known as an implied warranty of hability. This is a clause added (or implied) to the lease by law, that the rented premises must be fit for their intended purpose--in this case, residence or habitation. A condition which is serious enough and which impacts safe habitation can violate this warranty and the tenants the right to move out or to seek monetary compensation. However, 1) the condition must sufficiently serious--while a bad roach infestation could suffiice, a few roaches would not; 2) the landlord must be given written notice of the problem and a chance to correct it; and 3) if the correct takes time (e.g several weeks) to resolve, if the landlord is making a good faith  effort, it must be given that chance. From what you write, yo *might* have a violation of the warranty in your premises, but it's not at all a given or clear that you do. Since the specific facts are so important, you should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney who can evaluate the situation in detail for you.


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