Can my landlord tell us we have to move because he doesn’t want to fix sewage problem?

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Can my landlord tell us we have to move because he doesn’t want to fix sewage problem?

I have lived here for several years and now have a 2 week old infant, 9 year old daughter, and 7 year old autistic son. The basement started flooding and won’t go down. He has had 2 plumbers tell him thousands in damages. He told us he can’t afford to fix it, so we should move and didn’t offer rent or deposit back.

Asked on June 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

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 requires the landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.  The sewage is a health issue and constitutes a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  The landlord cannot simply tell you to move because he doesn't want to repair the problem.

When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord as you have done and the landlord is required to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.  Since the landlord has refused to make the necessary repairs and it would be too costly for you to hire someone to make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent, you should contact the local housing code inspector, who will bring an enforcement action against the landlord for housing code violations.  Another alternative for you is to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitablity.  Another option is to move out and terminate your obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of your lease.  If you stay on the premises, you can withhold rent and defend against eviction.


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