In Chester, Montgomery, and Philadelphia County, issues and disputes often arise between landlords and their tenants. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, these problems often stem from responsibilities that landlords owe to their tenants and the dwelling in which they reside. The Implied Warranty of Habitability covers a wide-range of such duties that are owed to tenants by their landlord. If such duties are not honored, the landlord could face certain financial and legal consequences. It is essential that all landlords and tenants are aware of their rights and how having an experienced attorney can help them.
Implied Warranty of Habitability in Pennsylvania:
The Implied Warrant of Habitability states that, “a landlord will provide facilities and services vital to the life, health, and safety of the tenant and to the use of the premises for residential purposes. King v. Moorehead, at 495 S.W.2d 75.” Pugh v. Holmes, 253 Pa.Super. 87, 384 A.2d at 1240. This warranty is applicable both at the beginning of the lease and throughout its duration. Id. citing Old Town Development Co. v. Langford, 349 N.E.2d 744, 764 (Ind.App. 1976) and Mease v. Fox, 200 N.W.2d 791, 796 (Iowa 1972). In Holmes, the Court stated that, ““In order to constitute a breach of the warranty, the defect must be of a nature and kind which will prevent the use of the dwelling for its intended purpose to provide premises fit for habitation by its dwellers . . . this means the premises must be safe and sanitary; of course, there is no obligation on the part of the landlord to supply a perfect or aesthetically pleasing dwelling.”
Common Obligations the Landlord Must Adhere to Under this Warranty:
In Pennsylvania, a breach of the Implied Warrant of Habitability generally occurs when a landlord fails to maintain the dwelling in a livable and safe manner. Common examples of a landlord breaching this warranty include:
- Not providing trash receptacles or arranging for trash disposal,
- Failure to maintain the structural integrity of the dwelling in a safe manner (stairways, hallways, floors, walls, etc.),
- Failing to provide hot and cold water for tenant usage,
- Failing to maintain all common areas (lobbies, hallways, elevators, stairways) in a safe and clean manner,
- Failing to maintain proper electrical, heating, plumbing, and air conditioning,
- Failing to exterminate infestations of rodents and/or insects.
Remedies Associated With a Breach of Implied Warranty of Habitability
In mostly all cases, the landlord will have the ability to remedy any/all breaches that occurred in the dwelling of the tenant. The landlord will be given a reasonable amount of time to fix and/or replace any portion of the property that has become in breach. The tenant must inform the landlord of the issued and give him/her a reasonable amount of time to fix the problem. A reasonable amount of time is often difficult to gauge for many reasons. Generally factors that will go into the amount of time the landlord will have to fix the problem include:
- The time of the year***,
- The severity of the problem,
- The amount of time the landlord was aware of the problem,
- The level of intrusion the problem is causing to the tenant’s life.
***For example: A landlord will have more time to fix a furnace that has broken in the summertime as opposed to the winter time because furnaces often are not operating in hotter weather.
If the landlord does NOT remedy the situation, the tenant can resolve the issue in various ways including:
- Reduce rental payments ,
- Repair the problem on their own and deduct the cost from rent,
- Make the repairs, pay the rent in full, and then sue for monetary damages.
Seeking Legal Counsel: An Essential Step in any Landlord/Tenant Dispute:
If you or someone you know believes that your landlord has breached the Implied Warrant of Habitability, The Law Office of Vincent J. Caputo is ready to help you through this matter. Please contact us with any question about your specific case. Our experienced staff and attorneys will ensure that your needs, concerns, and questions will be handled in a professional and courteous manner.