What is an Implied Warranty of Habitability?

When you make the decision to rent your property to others, be it a house, an apartment building, a condo or something else, you are listing the property under the assumption that it complies with an implied warranty of habitability. Simply put, this means that the property you are attempting to rent is structurally safe for human habitation.

It is absolutely essential that every landlord understand the implied warranty of habitability, and what it means for his or her tenants. If your rental property does not meet the necessary criteria, you could be liable for monetary damages.

There are four basic areas of criteria that must be proven for implied warranty of habitability.

Implied Warranty of Habitability #1: Known Hazard

A known hazard is one of the most crucial points concerning habitability. Known hazards are problems within the dwelling that might make it unsafe for tenants, such as asbestos insulation, lead paint, carbon monoxide leaks, or problematic plumbing. When you rent out a property, your impliedly certify that that there are no hazardous aspects to the dwelling.

If, however, there are known hazards, you can still rent out the property with a signed waver stating that you have disclosed that hazard to the tenant.

Implied Warranty of Habitability #2: Fixtures

For the most part, ‘fixtures’ applies to the sink, bathtub and toilet in all bathrooms of the dwelling. By most state laws, a rental property must supply working bathroom fixtures in order for it to be considered fit for occupancy. Make sure that all of the fixtures in the property work before trying to rent it out.

Implied Warranty of Habitability #3: Structural Soundness

A structurally sound home contains no pest problems, no holes in the walls, ceilings or floors, and is safe for occupancy. A home that has any of these problems, or that does not provide adequate protection from the elements, is not considered fit for occupancy.

Implied Warranty of Habitability #4: Recurring Problems

A home that has a consistently recurring problem may not fit the implied warranty of habitability. If, for example, you have problems with plumbing at least once a month, it is definitely cost-effective to have the plumbing replaced so that you can rent out the property. Otherwise, it will be considered a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

The implied warranty of habitability is in place to protect unsuspecting tenants from ‘slumlords’ who do not care about the people who reside within their dwellings. Tenants who feel that their landlords are in breach of the implied warranty of habitability can either file a lawsuit or consider themselves constructively evicted.

Landlords who are concerned about this issue can hire an inspector who will go over every inch of the property and report any problems that might prevent habitability. Once you have identified problem areas, you can have them fixed and the property will be ready for residential lease.

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