What to do if my rental townhome’s basement flooded with creek and sewer water but my lndlord is not cleaning the left behind debris or bacteria?

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What to do if my rental townhome’s basement flooded with creek and sewer water but my lndlord is not cleaning the left behind debris or bacteria?

Our community flooded; all buildings have severe flooding and sewer back up. We had up to 5th stair of water and sewer in our basement on Friday. Our boiler room flooded, so our hot water has been out since Friday as well. It is now Sunday and the basement drained itself but not all the debris and bacteria from the sewer. They still haven’t fixed the boiler and the property manager still hasn’t purchased a “snake” to help the sewer system. They are just hosing the debris down the drain with no santization from for the sewer back up. Can I withhold rent until properly cleaned?

Asked on May 6, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

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 local and state housing codes.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord as you have done and the landlord is required 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 options:  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.  You can also contact the local housing code inspector, who can bring an enforcement action against the landlord for code violations to compel the landlord to clean up the mess and make the necessary repairs.  The sewage is a health and safety issue which constitutes a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.


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