If we just moved and found out that the sump pump is not working, are we responsible?

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If we just moved and found out that the sump pump is not working, are we responsible?

We have just rented a home and after being here for 17 days found out that the sump pump wasn’t in working order, it’s not working at all. We have notified the landlord and he told us to call the homeowners warranty center. After finding out that the landlord wanted us to pay for $75 trade service fee, we found it to be very questionable. It is a little amount but now wondering if we are responsible for any additional fees or repairs/replacements of items that were not in working order before we moved in. This is the first time we dealt with a sump pump and just assumed it was working. That was bad on our part. If not what are the steps we need to take to inform and deal with this with our landlord to avoid further expenses?

Asked on June 1, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

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.  When there ie s breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord and the landlord is required to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.

Not all maintenance problems constitute a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  If the sump pump is causing problems with sewage or liquids, etc, that would be a health hazard which would constitute a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

If the landlord does not respond within a reasonable time to a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant has the following options:  The tenant can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent which would probably be your option here since the landlord did respond but is trying to shift the cost to you.  If the landlord had not responded within a reasonable time to a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent or 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.  Other alternatives for a tenant when there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability would be to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability and contact the local housing code inspector, who can bring an enforcement action against the landlord for housing code violations.

Again, in your situation since the landlord responded within a reasonable time, this would cure the issue of breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  However, it would be advisable to deduct the cost of repairs for which you are paying from the rent.


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