If my landlord as not re-keyed my unit as per state code is this grounds to break my lease?

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If my landlord as not re-keyed my unit as per state code is this grounds to break my lease?

I just started a residential lease the beginning of this month. My lease contains the following item: “A. Subchapter D Chapter 92 Property Code requires the Property to be equipped with certain types of locks and security devices. Landlord has re-keyed the security devices since the last occupant vacated the Property or will re-key the security devices within 7 days after Tenant moves in. ‘Security device’ has the meaning assigned to that term in §92.151, Property Code”. Now my locks have not been re-keyed or changed and I notified the Landlord of this in writing the middle of this month of the fact. Is this grounds to break the lease?

Asked on July 21, 2011 Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability which means the landlord must 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 landlord must respond with a reasonable time to make the repairs. 

Since the failure to re-key or change the lock is a violation of the Property Code section you cited, you could argue that this constitutes a breach of the implied warranty of habitability as it is a safety issue.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent or 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, withhold rent and defend against eviction.


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