Who is responsible for replacing a carpet destroyed by a flood?

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Who is responsible for replacing a carpet destroyed by a flood?

We rent an apartment on the bottom floor of a building and had a flood about 2 months ago. The property manager called a service company to come and take care of the water. They told the manager that the carpet could not be saved so the manager told the company to pull the carpet because they would replace it (without notifying our landlord). Now, almost 2 months later the manager says that their insurance company will not pay to replace the carpet and neither will the landlord. We have nails sticking out from the baseboard, tack strips still in the floor. We have 2 small children. What are our rights as tenants?

Asked on November 28, 2010 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The landlord is responsible for replacing the carpet that was destroyed in the flood.  In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability which means that the landlord must maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.  The exposed nails would pose a health and safety issue and would constitute a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  You could sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability. 

When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, 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 remains on the premises, withhold rent and defend against eviction.

Another option would be for the tenant to make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent.


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