Disputes between landlords and tenants over the condition of the property can get ugly quickly. If you only hear the landlord’s side of the story, you get the impression that the tenant stopped paying rent and started making all kinds of unreasonable demands. If you only hear the tenant’s side, the landlord left the apartment in squalid conditions and refused to make repairs or respond to communication from the tenant. Just how bad does the apartment have to be before the lease becomes invalid, and what efforts do both parties have to make before taking their dispute to court? If you are involved in a dispute over the warranty of habitability of a rental property, contact the Denver real estate lawyers at the Law Offices of Eric Nesbitt, P.C.
What Makes a Rental Unit Uninhabitable?
Rental agreements come with an implied warranty of habitability, a promise by the landlord to keep the rental property in safe condition. Tenants have the right to be released from their obligations to pay rent if the landlord breaches the warranty of habitability. Colorado law considers the landlord to be in breach of the warranty of habitability if the condition of the rental property presents a threat to the health or safety of the tenant. These are just some of the conditions that make a rental property habitable:
● Heating, wiring, and plumbing that comply with legal regulations
● Working appliances, including refrigerators, stoves, and ovens, if the landlord promised to provide these in the rental agreement
● Pest control services and timely responses to infestations of insects or rodents
● Hot water in kitchen and bathroom faucets
If the required repairs are extensive enough to require the tenant to vacate the premises while the repair work is going on, the landlord must provide alternative accommodations. This could mean moving the tenant to a different apartment in the same building at no additional cost to the tenant. It might also mean paying for the tenant’s lodging in a hotel for several nights. Landlords also have a responsibility to notify the tenant within one business day if the landlord’s contact information changes. If the landlord sells the property or changes property management companies, it must provide tenants with the contact information of the new landlord or new manager within one business day.
Repairing a Breach of the Warranty of Habitability
Most rental agreements contain provisions about how tenants should contact landlords to request repairs and about the deadline by which the landlord must make the requested repairs. Tenants should present the landlord with formal notice of a breach of the warranty of habitability if the landlord has failed or refused to make the requested repairs. If the landlord does not repair the breach by making the repairs, tenants should contact a lawyer before taking additional steps such as withholding rent or vacating the premises.
If you suspect an issue you are dealing with falls within the realm of warranty of habitability, contact the Law Offices of Eric L. Nesbitt, P.C. at (303)741-2354 or via email to email@example.com.