Am I on the hook for full rent if I have been let out of my lease for a broken water main?

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Am I on the hook for full rent if I have been let out of my lease for a broken water main?

I have had issues since I moved in and complained to leasing office so much that in my frustration I emailed the property management group. I was informed by one of their employees that the leak in the pipes is severe enough that the entire unit must now be renovated. There has been sewage backed up in both my kitchen and bathroom sinks, standing water on the floor from when the wager/dryer connections spewed while I was working, a garbage disposal that worked so infrequently that it had to be replaced altogether and most recently 2 leaking bulges in my shower that rained yellow water.

Asked on May 28, 2012 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Since you have been released from your lease, you would not be obligated to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease.  After the renovation is completed, if you move back in there, then of course you would have to pay rent subject to the terms of a new lease or if you don't have a lease, but the landlord is accepting rent payments, you would have a month-to-month tenancy.

The conditions you described regarding the sewage backing up would constitute a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  The implied warranty of habitability requires the landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with state and local 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 in a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.  When the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time and make the necessary repairs, the tenant has the following options:  The tenant can make the repairs 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.


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