What to do about an uninhabitable apartment that you have not yet moved into?

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What to do about an uninhabitable apartment that you have not yet moved into?

My mother was looking for an apartment to move in to since her lease was up where she was living. She signed the application for some apartments, and they approved her. Said they’d have an apartment ready for her to move on the 30th but it’s now the 2nd and the apartment they gave her is uninhabitable. Infested with roaches and bedbugs. The manager of the apartment complex doesn’t pick up the phone, and from what neighbors have told my mother, the mangaer won’t do a thing to fix this issue. My mom is having to spend extra money on storage facilities and hotels while she tries to find somewhere else to move in to. She hasn’t signed a contract yet, so I wonder if it would be possible to take legal action?

Asked on December 2, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your mother may have grounds to terminate the lease and also to possibly seek compensation for her additional costs. All apartments come with what is known as the "implied warranty of habitability." This warranty obligates the landlord to provide rental premises which are fit for their intended purpose, or residence. Serious pest infestations, if the landlord is or should reasonably be aware of them but fails to take reasonable action to remedy them, can violate this warranty. Depending on the exact situation, the tenant may be entitled to terminate the lease and consider herself "constructively" (or effectively) evicted; to pay for the cost of extirmination or other corrective action and deduct said cost from her rent; and/or to seek monetary compensation. You mother should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney to explore her options.


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