When can a defense of the warranty of habitability be used?

UPDATED: Aug 1, 2011

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When can a defense of the warranty of habitability be used?

My landlord is evicting me because of a past due oil balance over the previous winter of $364.63 oil bill (all of our rent is current). This bill was so high because of work that has not been done with the insulation and missing storm windows and screen windows. We also have a missing pane of glass that is still not fixed. We spend the entire winter last winter wearing jackets in our house, keeping the heat at 55 and it was still very cold inside. We still ended up paying $400 to $500 a month just for oil.

Asked on August 1, 2011 Maine


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In an eviction proceeding, some tenants use the defense of deficient habitability conditions to help reduce the amount of monthly rent allegedly owed claiming that given the rental's poor habitable conditions warrant the monthly agreed upon rent be reduced because the amount agreed for the monthly rent is not what the property is worth.

For example of the landlord has been advised of poor conditions of the rental needing repairs and the repairs are not mad ein a timely manner, and eviction proceedings are then started by the landlord, the tenant can argue that even though rent was unpaid by him or her, the amount allegedly owed under the lease should be reduced due to the rental's poor condition.

The items you list could be factors in establishing a habitability defense, i.e., missing storm window and missing pane of glass.

Good luck.

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