December 26, 2016
By: Matthew S Feinman
Anyone who has rented can tell you a rental horror story that either they or a friend has gone through. Rats, loss of electric or water, mold… the list goes on and on. Some problems can be easily fixed, but some can cause you to have to move out and find a new place to live, whether permanently or temporarily.
Every rental agreement in Pennsylvania comes with a clause call the Implied Warranty of Habitability. Although you may never see those words, or anything like them, in your lease, it is, as the name suggests, implied in every residential lease. For more than a hundred years prior to 1979, Pennsylvania followed an old English feudal system called Caveat Emptor. Caveat emptor said that a renter needed to find any problems before signing a lease and contract for the landlord to repair them. Anything not contracted for was the responsibility of the renter.
Realizing that a renter was more interested in having a place to live than improving the land they were renting, and knowing that the landlord always had more bargaining power than the renter (because the renter needed somewhere to live and the landlord could always find someone else), the 1979 Pennsylvania Supreme Court case of Pugh v. Holmes abolished Caveat emptor and adopted the Implied Warranty of Habitability (IWH). The IWH helps to ensure that landlords keep their properties in good order, and that, should they fall into disrepair, they are returned to a habitable state expediently.
“The implied warranty is designed to insure 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. “
If a landlord fails to keep their property habitable, a renter has a number of options of how to move forward. These options include, but are not limited to, withholding rent, temporarily moving out, or permanently moving out.
If you believe that your rental is uninhabitable, or you are having trouble getting your landlord to resolve a major problem, contact me today to see how I can help you get your rental issues resolved.