When you are looking over your apartment lease agreement, many questions may come to mind. What are my tenant's rights? Does the landlord have to come by to fix things? What is the implied warranty of habitability?
For one, checking your lease over is something all tenants should do. After all, the lease is essentially a legal contract. When you sign it, it becomes a binding and enforceable agreement between you and your landlord.
So what do you have to look out for? And, most importantly, do you have to take the apartment "as is," and are there any rights you have in the law that requires a landlord to maintain the property?
The answer is, unfortunately, not a simple yes or no. Many apartment leases have different terms. Some may require that the landlord fix things in the apartment, such as the fixtures or appliances.
And, even if there is on specific term in the lease that requires the landlord to keep the apartment up to a certain standard, most jurisdictions have ruled that every lease carries with it the "implied warranty of habitability."
The implied warranty of habitability is an inherent promise in every lease that the landlord will make the necessary repairs to keep the apartment up to code. Many states have also ruled that it is illegal for a lease to waive this warranty so that the landlord has no duty to make basic repairs to keep the property up to living standards.
If the landlord breaks any of the lease provisions or fails to keep the property up to code, you may usually withhold the amount of rent that represents the reduction in value of the apartment due to the poor maintenance. Note that this does not mean that you can withhold the entire amount of the rent - unless the reduction in value of the apartment makes it so that the apartment is now worth $0.
So, when signing a lease - make sure to check your apartment's lease agreement and lease terms. And, when it comes to maintaining the property, be informed of your tenants' rights and the implied warranty of habitability.
- Checklist: Reviewing a Lease (FindLaw)
- Does the implied warranty of habitability apply only to tenants living in slum buildings? (FindLaw)
- Apartment Tenant Rights: Rent Deposit Tips (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- 5 Tell-Tale Signs that an Eviction is Illegal (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)