As tenants, do we have legal recourse for our landlord’s failure to disclose a known material defect in the rental premises?

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As tenants, do we have legal recourse for our landlord’s failure to disclose a known material defect in the rental premises?

We rented a property for use as a restaurant. We have had roof leaks and basement flooding. The landlord now relates that this happens all the time. Previous renters have related to us that the problem is longstanding and the landlord did nothing to help. Lease is up in 2 months. If we have to relocate we will have significant losses.

Asked on April 24, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Speak with a landlord-tenant attorney--you should have a cause of action, or legal claim for damages (monetary compensation). There are two different grounds under which you may be able to bring a claim:

1) Fraud--a knowing misrepresentation of material (important) information, or a knowing omission (failure to state) information which the landlord was under a duty to disclose, is fraud, and fraud can rise to a claim for damages.

2) Implied warranty of habitability: all rental premises come with what's called the "implied warranty of habitability," or the obligation on the landlord to provide premises that are "fit for their intended purpose." Significant leaks or flooding coud render a premises unfit for use, violating this warranty. Violations of this warranty can give rise to a claim for monetary damages, or for grounds to seek a court order requiring the landlord to make repairs.

Your attorney can advise you as to your best options and recourse under your specific situation.


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