Conditions Making Units Uninhabitable
Conditions that Make a Rental Unit Legally UninhabitableThere are many kinds of defects that could make a rental unit unlivable. The implied warranty of habitability requires landlords to maintain their rental units in a condition fit for the "occupation of human beings." In addition, the rental unit must "substantially comply" with building and housing code standards that materially affect tenants' health and safety.
A dwelling may be considered uninhabitable (unlivable) if it substantially lacks any of the following:
- Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors.
- Plumbing facilities in good working order, including hot and cold running water, connected to a sewage disposal system.
- Gas facilities in good working order.
- Heating facilities in good working order.
- An electric system, including lighting, wiring, and equipment, in good working order.
- Clean and sanitary buildings, grounds, and appurtenances (for example, a garden or a detached garage), free from debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.
- Adequate trash receptacles in good repair.
- Floors, stairways, and railings in good repair.
Requirements for Rental UnitsIn addition to these requirements, each rental unit must have all of the following:
- A working toilet, wash basin, and bathtub or shower. The toilet and bathtub or shower must be in a room which is ventilated and allows privacy.
- A kitchen with a sink that cannot be made of an absorbent material such as wood.
- Natural lighting in every room through windows or skylights. Windows in each room must be able to open at least halfway for ventilation, unless a fan provides mechanical ventilation.
- Safe fire or emergency exits leading to a street or hallway. Stairs, hallways and exits must be kept litter-free. Storage areas, garages, and basements must be kept free of combustible materials.
- Operable deadbolt locks on the main entry doors of rental units, and operable locking or security devices on windows.
- Working smoke detectors in all units of multi-unit buildings, such as duplexes and apartment complexes. Apartment complexes also must have smoke detectors in common stairwells.