Do landlords have to provide safe water to their renters?

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Do landlords have to provide safe water to their renters?

I have been asking my current landlord about having safe/consumable water for my family (I have 3 children 6 years, 20 months and a 10 month old). Nothing has been done about it yet and my current landlord told me (in front of witnesses) that if I did not like the water to just move. I do not want to go through the hassle of moving but am tired of being pushed around by this landlord who keeps threatening to evict me and my family of 5.

Asked on July 15, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You don't specify exactly what is wrong with your water. Can you drink it? If not, can you at least use it for showering, etc? Either way you may have 2 legal courses of action.

This first one is known as "constructive eviction". If the water situation is of such a nature that it renders the water unsafe and unusable, then you have effectively been evicted. Clean water is a ncessity in a residnece. Due to this situation you will have no choice but to move out. When you do may have a legal claim for any costs you incur (such a hotel; extra travel time; storing belongings; etc.). Additionally, if you choose to do so, you can request that the court issue an order allowing you to move back in after the situation has been corrected.  Finally, there is also the potential to recover your attorney's fees, if any.  You may also be entitled to other remedies depending upon specific state law.

Your second course of action would be to claim breach of the "warranty of habitability". This right is implied in every residential lease. It provides that a tenant must be given a sanitary and safe premises in which to live; in other words the rental premises must be "habitable". For such a breach you may be able to terminate your lease, withhold rent until the repair is made, or make the repair yourself and the deduct the cost from your rent. The absence of usable water would qualify.

However, before attempting to employ any of these remedies you need to consult directly with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant cases. At the very least you should speak to a tenants right advocacy organization. At this stage you need to be certain of your legal rights under applicable state law. 


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