Can I call the health department on my landlord?

UPDATED: Jan 11, 2012

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Can I call the health department on my landlord?

My roommate and I rented a house and are 5 months into our lease. About 2 months ago we noticed mouse droppings in our kitchen cabinets. We told our landlord and he had a pest control guy he personally knew come out and set some traps. We only caught one mouse and the problem is becoming worse. The house was built in 1929 and the foundation is deteriorating resulting in holes everywhere making easy entryways for mice. Can I call the health department behind the landlord’s back and have them come out and inspect? There is no way this house is up to code.

Asked on January 11, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Missouri


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You can call the health department or preferably the city housing code inspector to document code violations.

In every lease, there is an implied warranty of habitability which requires the landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with the local and state housing code.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord as you have done and the landlord has to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.  When the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs, the tenant has the following remedies:  The tenant can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent or the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if the tenant stays on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.  Another alternative is to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  The mouse infestation is a health hazard which breaches the implied warranty of habitability.  A report from a code inspector will provide evidence of the breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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