Is an unsanitary environment grounds for getting out of an apartment lease?

At my apartment complex the sewer has backed up, flooding the area right outside my door, 5 times in the 2 months I’ve lived there. There is feces floating in the water outside my door, leaving me with no way to my car except walking through the infested sewage. The only type of “clean-up” they’ve attempted is to sweep the water into the storm drain which is also backed up, so it just comes back out, they left the feces in the yard. Is this grounds for getting out of the lease without having it on our credit?

Asked on November 3, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability, which means the landlord must maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord as you have done and the landlord is required to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.  When the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time, the tenant has the following remedies: the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or the tenant can stay on the premises, withhold rent and defend against eviction.  Another remedy would be to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  The sewage situation you described is a health and safety issue which constitutes a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

Asserting your rights in a situation where there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability should not impact your credit.

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