If my fiance and I have been getting bitten at night by bugs for the last 3 months and the issue not being addressed, could we look to legally breaking the lease for uninhabitable premises?

Finally found a bug 2 weeks ago. It was a bat bug, like a bed bug but come along with bat infestations. We alerted our landlord to this on Tuesday last week that our pest control guy couldn’t get into the attic because it was locked. He had to contact the HOA because it is their domain. It took until today after 3:30 PM for them to open the hatch, so pest control can’t get out for just the quote/assessment until next Tuesday. So 2 weeks from alerting to even assessment of the issue.

Asked on January 25, 2013 under Real Estate Law, Colorado

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

In every residential lease there is what is known as an "implied warranty of habitability". This requires a landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local/state housing codes. When there is a breach of this warranty, the tenant must notify their landlord, who then has to respond within a reasonable time and make repairs. When a landlord fails to make the necessary repairs, the tenant has the following options, they can remedy their situation by: making the repairs and deducting the cost from the rent, moving out and terminatng their obligation to pay rent for the balance of the lease term, or staying on the premises, withholding rent and defeningd against eviction. 

Finally, you can (and should) contact your local housing code enforcement officer; they can issue a citation and fine your landlord for such a condition. At this point, you should consult with an attorney that handles landlord-tenant matters before attempting any of the abovementioned remedies.


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