Ifissues with the water purification system make our rental house uninhabitable, can we break the lease without penalty?

We have now been told after four months in the house that the water filtration system will not allow us to use the water for 2 hours a day. Even with that, there is still rust and brown staining whenever we use the water and I am concerned about the impact this could have on my newborn son. Furthermore, because the sewage sump pump was installed improperly, I cannot wash more than 2 loads of wash at any given time. Does this make the house uninhabitable and allow us to break the lease without penalty?

Asked on March 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Maryland


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

In every lease there is an implied warranty of habitability which requires the landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with state and local housing codes.  The rust and brown stains in the water are a health hazard and would constitute a breach of the implied warranty of habitability. The faulty water filtration system and not being able to use the water two hours per day would constitute a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord and the landlord must respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.   When the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time and make the necessary repairs, the tenant has the following options:  The tenant can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent or the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if the tenant stays on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.  Another alternative is to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  It would also be advisable to contact the local housing code inspector who will pursue an enforcement action against the landlord.

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