What constitutes a breach if the implied warranty of habitability?

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What constitutes a breach if the implied warranty of habitability?

I signed the lease to my apartment on Friday. That Sunday was move in day and upon entering the premises saw that there were roaches. Not a lot but enough to creep me out. I contacted the leasing office asap on Monday and told them of the problem. That day they had an exterminator came and sprayed the entire building and later bombed my apartment. My apartment has been uninhabitable since Sunday (I’ll go ahead and assume it wasn’t habitable since Friday but I wasn’t aware of the problem until Sunday). Can I ask for them to replace my couch/bed that have been sitting in this apartment since Sunday? Is there any way I can get out of my lease?

Asked on December 19, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Kentucky

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A serious pest infestation which makes it unhealthy or unsafe to live somewhere and which the landlord does not take steps to remediate (deal with or correct) after notice could violate the implied warranty of habitability; a small number of roaches which are exterminated the same day do NOT violate this warranty. Remember: landlords are not held to standard of perfection or required to provide completely pest-free living; they are expected to take reasonable steps to keep the unit in such condition that the average person could live there.

If the bug bombing temporarily made your unit uninhabitable (for a few days, say), that would not entitle you to terminate your lease, it may entitle you to a rent rebate for the days you could not use the space--though since, if the landlord will not voluntarily provide it, you'd have to sue, it may not be worthwhile. (Example: say your rent is $1,200/month, or $40 per day; if your apartment is uninhabitable for 3 days, you could potentially recover $120, which is probably not worth a lawsuit.)

If the bombing was done in some negligent or careless fashion that so permeated some of your belongings (e.g. coach/bed) with pesticide or poison that you have to replace them, you may be able to sue the exterminator's employer (probably the exterimination company, unless he was an employee of the landlord) for the cost to replace those items.


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