What are lhe landlord’s reponsibilities and my tenant rights concerning a roach infestion?

My apartment has roaches in the back door frame and the door itself; they are coming under the door. They are now crawling on the cabinets, the top of the stove, the fridge, the walls and across the floor – all during the day and night. I have an 8 month old and a 2 year old; the raoches crawl on my children during their naptime. I have spent money trying to get rid of them but I can’t. What can I do? My lease is up in 2 months.

Asked on July 21, 2012 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina


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 local and state housing codes.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord 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 options:  The tenant can make the repairs (call an exterminator in your situation) 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 for the tenant to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  You can also contact your local housing code inspector, who may bring an enforcement action against the landlord for housing code violations.  You can argue that the roach infestation is a health hazard which constitutes a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

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