What defines a home as liveable when there is water damage?

We had a cold water pipe bust in our rental property and my tenant or soon to be ex-tenant claims it is unlivable. There are walls water although right now it has to be turned on only when needed until the plumber fixes it, A/C, heat, roof, etc.

Asked on November 8, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Louisiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If there was no water available at all, the home would clearly be uninhabitable. If there water available at the tenant's control--e.g. they can turn a valve easily whenever they need to--and it does not cause more damage to use the water, the home would be liveable (though they still would almost certainly be entitled to some compensation--i.e. rent abatment--for this situation if they were to bring a legal action). In between those extremes, it depends on the circumstances, though if one or more of the following exists--

* the water is only available at limited times or in small quantities

* using the water causes damage to walls, floors, etc.

* the water is not under the tenant's control; the tenant needs to ask the landlord to turn it on, and therefore may not always have it available

--then there is a reasonable chance that a court would consider the implied warranty of habitability to be breached, entitling the tenant to significant compensation and/or to terminate the lease. It depends on the exact circumstances, and every case is different.

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