If I have an infestation, isn’t it my landlord’s responsibility to take care of it?

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If I have an infestation, isn’t it my landlord’s responsibility to take care of it?

I have an infestation and I feel it is a health hazard. I told my landlord and I have been having this problem since I moved in but it hasn’t have been as bad as it is now. I tried to solve it on my own but just gets worse. My landlord says since there was no evidence of infestation when we moved then she will not do anything. Is this legal?

Asked on December 22, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You are correct that it is your landlord's responsibility to get rid of the infestation.

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability which means that the landlord is required to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with local and state housing codes.  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 (in your case getting rid of the infestation).  When the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time, the tenant has the following options 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 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.  Another option would be to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  Your legal argument would be that the infestation is a health hazard which constitutes a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.


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