Is it illegal for a landlord not to change your carpet until you move?

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Is it illegal for a landlord not to change your carpet until you move?

My friend had been in her apartment for 8 years she has asked her apartment to change her carpet many times. All they say is we don’t change it until you leave, today maggots started to come out of her

carpet. We don’t know if the carpet is rotten, molded or anything because they will not change the carpet until she moves.

Asked on June 15, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Generally, a landlord does not need to replace a carpet for aesthetic reasons: no matter how dingy, faded, etc. the carpet becomes, they do not need to change it. The law does not guaranty you an attractive or desirable place to live. However, the law does guaranty you a safe, healthy, hygienic place to live; that is the "implied warranty of habitability," which the law makes a part of every lease and which effectively states that the landlord warrants (or guarantees) that the unit is safely habitable. Giving tenants a healthy place to live is part of the landlord's obligations under the lease, and if he will not do this, the tenant can withhold rent until the unhealthy condition is corrected. 
Maggots would seem to indicate an unhealthy condition. Your friend should provide the landlord written notice or warning of the maggots and written request that the condition be corrected; she should send this some way she can prove delivery (like certified mail). If after a reasonable time or chance to take action, the landlord still doesn't, your friend can withhold rent. She needs to keep the rent and have it available--i.e. not spend it. If/when the landlord tried to evict her for not paying her rent, she will go to court and explain to the court that she deliberately withheld rent because the landlord will not deal with maggots in her unit; that she has the money available to pay when the condition is corrected; that she can deposit or escrow the money with the court if required (this is often required, to make sure that the tenant actually has the money and guaranty payment to the landlord when the issue is fixed); and that she provided written notice (copies of which, and proof of delivery of which, she should bring to court). The court wlll consider the facts and has the power to order the landlord to clean-up/fix the issue and to let your friend withhold rent until he does.
Your friend should also take photos of the maggots: that will be powerful visual evidence of the problem.


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