Is a landlord liable for a septic tank problem?

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Is a landlord liable for a septic tank problem?

My daughter owns her mobile home but is renting the lot. Her sewer system is backing up. We came to find out that she and 2 other trailers are on the same septic tank. Is this legal? The landowner does not want to fix the problem.

Asked on June 6, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If the septic is owned or maintained by the landlord and it is backing up, then the landlord must deal with the problem (unless as below). All leases include an implied warranty of habitability, or a requirement that the premises rented by fit for their purpose. A trailer lot leased with septic would have to have working septic and hygenienic septic. If it's backing up, this could be violating the implied warranty of habitablity, which could give the tenants grounds to sue for damages or to force the work to be done.

Note that parties can reassign risk via contract, so if the lease requires the tenant(s) to maintain the septic, they would need to do this.

As for any possible code violations--you need to check at the local town/city/etc. hall for the local building codes and health codes relating to septic. These codes are made and enforced at a local leval. A phone call or two should answer the question.


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