What are a tenant’s rights if their rental unit is not up to code?

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What are a tenant’s rights if their rental unit is not up to code?

My mother is renting a house that was built in the very early 1900’s. It has 2 units. I don’t think it is up to code. The house has no sound proofing between her and the next unit. You can hear everything,so that means there is probably no fire proofing. There doesn’t seem to be any insulation between the interior and exterior walls.The floors are not level, there seems to be water damage to them. They appear to be rotted under the tile. The plumbing in not good. Everything looks pieced together. There are no bedroom doors. The door on the bathroom was probably put in in the 40’s, and does not have a good door knob on it. My daughter has gotten stuck in the bathroom- and we couldn’t even unscrew it from the outside.

Asked on August 6, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You or your mother should consult with an attorney who can evaluate your exact situation and recommend what action to take (and then help you take it). In general:

1) There is something called the "implied warranty of habitability," which requires that an apartment be safely inhabitable. It's not clear that the issues you describe are enough to render it not habitable, but it's an issue to consider.

2) If the landlord is not making necessary repairs to the home, the landlord may be in breach of  the lease and you may have grounds to sue for damages, such as a reduction in rent until matters are repaired.

3) If the landlord made misrepresenations to your mother before she rented, to get her to rent, about the premises' shape or repairs the landlord would make, then there may be a cause of action for fraud.

4) If the building is not up to code for a rental, or is not a legal (i.e. approved) rental, then it may be that the municpal government (i.e. building dept.) would take action. However, this action could invovle barring it from being rented, which means your mother would need to find a new place to live. Definitely consult with an attorney before contacting any authorities.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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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