A surprising number of people who are currently renting an apartment do not know that they have a legal right to safe and comfortable living conditions. When someone is forced out of their apartment due to poor conditions, it is known as a “constructive” eviction. But what does a constructive eviction look like in practical terms, and what should you do if it happens to you?
Explaining the Constructive Eviction
In simple terms, a constructive eviction is when a landlord fails to uphold their legal duty to ensure the property is safe and habitable to live in which effectively forces a tenant to leave as a result. This landlord’s duty is known as the implied warranty of habitability. Some landlords will deliberately make the living conditions in their buildings unlivable to force out undesired tenants, rather than go through the formal process of evicting them.
The Warranty of Habitability
The warranty of habitability is the common law doctrine that states that every tenant is owed a safe, livable and clean environment. This means that the landlord has a legal responsibility to perform basic maintenance and upkeep on the property, as well as to ensure essential utilities remain functional and available. It also means they need to promptly address infestations of pests that can impair a tenant’s ability to comfortably enjoy their apartment.
Unsafe or Uncomfortable Living Conditions
A constructive eviction can happen for any variety of reasons. Some possible issues that could result in a constructive eviction include:
- A failure to perform regular, required maintenance
- A failure to repair broken windows or floorboards
- A failure to repair broken utilities, such as a boiler or HVAC unit
- A failure to address infestations of rats, mice, termites, silverfish, or other pests
- Failing to provide heat in the winter
- Turning off water or electricity
- Changing a tenant’s locks without notifying them
- Entering a tenant’s apartment with notice or permission
What You Should Do
If you are currently in an apartment that has unsafe or uncomfortable living conditions, you may be the victim of a constructive eviction. In that case, you should seek out alternative living conditions, and contact a lawyer. They can help you to obtain relief for the harm you have suffered, including obtaining compensation for rent you paid while your landlord failed to uphold their responsibilities. The sooner you call, the sooner you can get the justice you deserve.
If you are in a dispute with your landlord and want to know more about protecting yourself, do not wait until it is too late. You should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling landlord-tenant disputes, who can advise you on your rights and help you avoid the risk of eviction. Contact the skilled landlord-tenant attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. Contact us online, toll-free (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744 to discuss your rights and the solutions available to you.