What to do if we have asked on several occasions for our landlord to do something about the mice infestation but she has done nothing?

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What to do if we have asked on several occasions for our landlord to do something about the mice infestation but she has done nothing?

Her reply was to have us set traps but we explained to her that the traps no longer work and the mice are breeding. We told her that we were going to contact the city of columbus, she then told us we had 30 days to vacate and now wants to come into the house and gives us no reason to enter. She just wants to come in, we told her we felt uncomfortable with her doing so because we felt that she is harrassing us. Can she enter and can she evict us for this?

Asked on November 20, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

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 such as the mouse infestation, the tenant notifies the landlord 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, the tenant has the following remedies:  The tenant can make the repairs (call an exterminator) 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 housing code inspector as you were intending to do by contacting the city of Columbus.  The housing code inspector can bring an enforcement action against the landlord for housing code violations.  The mice are a health hazard and constitute a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  You cannot be evicted for contacting the city of Columbus.  You can sue the landlord for retaliatory eviction.  Retaliatory eviction is when a tenant is evicted for something that is not a breach of the lease.

Ohio requires 24 hours notice before the landlord can enter your rental except in an emergency.  You can sue the landlord for breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment for violating the 24 hour notice requirement.  The covenant of quiet enjoyment means that a tenant cannot be disturbed in his or her use and enjoyment of the premises.

You would file one lawsuit against the landlord with separate causes of action (claims) for breach of the implied warranty of habitability, retaliatory eviction, and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment.

It would be advisable to be represented by a landlord/tenant attorney, and specifically an attorney who represents tenants; not landlords.


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