Do landlords have to provide safe water to their renters?

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2011

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Do landlords have to provide safe water to their renters?

I have been asking my current landlord about having safe/consumable water for my family (I have 3 children 6 years, 20 months and a 10 month old). Nothing has been done about it yet and my current landlord told me (in front of witnesses) that if I did not like the water to just move. I do not want to go through the hassle of moving but am tired of being pushed around by this landlord who keeps threatening to evict me and my family of 5.

Asked on July 15, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You don't specify exactly what is wrong with your water. Can you drink it? If not, can you at least use it for showering, etc? Either way you may have 2 legal courses of action.

This first one is known as "constructive eviction". If the water situation is of such a nature that it renders the water unsafe and unusable, then you have effectively been evicted. Clean water is a ncessity in a residnece. Due to this situation you will have no choice but to move out. When you do may have a legal claim for any costs you incur (such a hotel; extra travel time; storing belongings; etc.). Additionally, if you choose to do so, you can request that the court issue an order allowing you to move back in after the situation has been corrected.  Finally, there is also the potential to recover your attorney's fees, if any.  You may also be entitled to other remedies depending upon specific state law.

Your second course of action would be to claim breach of the "warranty of habitability". This right is implied in every residential lease. It provides that a tenant must be given a sanitary and safe premises in which to live; in other words the rental premises must be "habitable". For such a breach you may be able to terminate your lease, withhold rent until the repair is made, or make the repair yourself and the deduct the cost from your rent. The absence of usable water would qualify.

However, before attempting to employ any of these remedies you need to consult directly with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant cases. At the very least you should speak to a tenants right advocacy organization. At this stage you need to be certain of your legal rights under applicable state law. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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