What are a tenant’s rights regarding health and safety issues/violations?

UPDATED: Aug 7, 2011

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What are a tenant’s rights regarding health and safety issues/violations?

1) We have mold growing rapidly in our bathroom, due to a molding window frame that is not sealed or finished. 2) We have mice, due to small holes and cracks in the hardwood floor and trim. 3) Our front stairs are not of legal size and we have fallen down them multiple times. 4) The locks on our windows do not work and we are on the first floor without bars on the windows. 5) There is a ceiling fan in 1 of the bedrooms (installed by landlord god knows how long ago) that is dangling from above our bed. We have brought these issues up with our landlord approx. 4-5 times, given him 2 letters.

Asked on August 7, 2011 New York


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that every residential lease contains what is known as the "implied warranty of habitability". Basically, this is a guarantee that a tenant will have a clean and safe premises in which to live. Accordinly if a rental is not clean and safe (i.e. habitable) a tenant has certain rights, namely they can:

  1. Repair and deduct (fix the problem and have the landlord reimburse them);
  2. Withhold rent (don't pay rent until the repairs are made); or
  3. Terminate the lease (and hold the landlord liable for reimbursement of moving and related any expenses). 

However before attempting any of these self-help remedies, you need to consult with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant cases, or you can contact a tenants rights organization for help. If you fail to follow the proper legal procedures, you could find yourself in legal trouble as well.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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