Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, Hilder (Plaintiff), moved into to an apartment with substantial defects, some of which she repaired at her own cost. Plaintiff sued to recover paid rent and money spent to repair defects in apartment.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. When the landlord breaches the implied warranty of habitability, tenant can withhold rent, repair defects and deduct this cost from rent payments, seek rent already paid, and seek punitive damages in the appropriate cases.
Issue. The Defendants raised three issues on appeal:
Whether the court’s award to Plaintiff of the entire amount of rent paid to Defendant was proper when the Plaintiff remained in possession.
Whether the court’s finding that Mr. St. Peter acted on his own behalf and with the apparent authority of Ms. St. Peter was sustainable.
Whether the court correctly calculated the amount of damages awarded to Plaintiff.
Held. Affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded. Plaintiff is entitled to either withhold rent or seek damages in the amount of rent previously paid.
An implied warranty of habitability exists, requiring the landlord to deliver and maintain through the lease, premises that are safe, clean and fit for human habitation.
The warranty of habitability covers all latent and patent defects in the essential facilities of the residential unit. Essential facilities are facilities vital to the use of the premises for residential purposes.
A tenant cannot assume the risk by acknowledging a defect, nor can the implied warranty of habitability be waived by a covenant in the lease.
To bring this claim, the tenant must show that he first notified the landlord and gave the landlord a reasonable time to correct the defect.
When American city dwellers, both rich and poor, seek shelter today, they seek a well known package of goods and services--a package which includes not merely walls and ceilings, but also adequate heat, light and ventilation, serviceable plumbing facilities, secure windows and doors, proper sanitation, and proper maintenance.View Full Point of Law