What Are Your Legal Options When You Have a Bad Landlord?


Quick Answer

If a tenant's landlord renders the tenant's space uninhabitable, a valid legal option is constructive eviction, explains the Legal Information Institute. This occurs when the landlord does not legally evict the tenant, but rather the tenant leaves and breaches lease terms as a result of the property becoming uninhabitable.

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Full Answer

An article published on the Legal Information Institute website states that within a landlord-tenant agreement lies an implied covenant of quiet enjoyment. Legal and appropriate constructive eviction can occur if the landlord has done or failed to do something resulting in impeded enjoyment of the tenant; if the landlord has failed to resolve a known problem; and if the tenant vacates the property after the landlord fails to resolve the problem. Courts expect to see detailed documentation of the issues in question.

There are certain overarching landlord-tenant laws, but they generally vary by state, reports the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. For instance, in New York state, it can be difficult to bring action against a landlord unless the property has been rendered unsafe. In New York City, this includes the landlord not turning on the heat in the winter or repairing the heating system if it breaks. HUD has a list of each state's tenant rights listed on its website.

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