What can legally be done about a pest infestation ina rental?

My sister moved her entire family from OH to GA 2 days ago. This morning when they woke up the place was roach and waterbug infested. Insects were crawling on her grandchild; they were everywhere throughout the the entire apartment. The landlord says she signed the lease and she couldn’t get her money back. They have nowhere to go and no money. What are her rights? Can she get her rent and deposit refunded?

Asked on August 27, 2011 Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

All leases have what's known as the "implied warranty of habitability" applied to them, even if it's not writen anywhere in the lease. This warranty means that the premises must be fit for its intended purpose--such as residence. A pest infestation can result in the landlord breaching the warranty, since it's generally considered that a serious pest infestation makes a premises unfit for residence. A breach of this warranty can sometimes provide grounds to terminate a lease without penalty; it may also provide grounds for monetary compensation, or for a court order requiring the landlord to correct the situation. Much depends on the exact facts and how the tenant has communicated the problem to the landlord. Your sister should consult with an attorney to evaluate her rights, recourse, and options. Good luck.


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