Under current law, a warranty of habitability (warranty) is implied in every rental agreement for a residential premises, and a landlord commits a breach of the warranty (breach) if:
- The residential premises is uninhabitable or otherwise unfit for human habitation;
- The residential premises is in a condition that is materially dangerous or hazardous to the tenant's life, health, or safety; and
- The landlord has received written notice of the condition and failed to cure the problem within a reasonable time.
The bill states that a landlord breaches the warranty if a residential premises is:
- Uninhabitable or otherwise unfit for human habitation or in a condition that is materially dangerous or hazardous to the tenant's life, health, or safety; and
- The landlord has received reasonably complete written or electronic notice of the condition and failed to commence remedial action by employing reasonable efforts within:
- 24 hours, where the condition is materially dangerous or hazardous to the tenant's life, health, or safety; or
- 72 hours, where the premises is uninhabitable or otherwise unfit for human habitation.
Current law provides a list of conditions that render a residential premises uninhabitable. To this list, the bill adds 2 conditions; specifically, a residential premises is uninhabitable if:
- The premises lacks functioning appliances that conformed to applicable law at the time of installation and that are maintained in good working order; or
- There is mold that is associated with dampness, or there is any other condition causing the premises to be damp, which condition, if not remedied, would materially interfere with the health or safety of the tenant.
The bill grants to county courts jurisdiction to provide injunctive relief related to a breach.
Current law requires a tenant to serve written notice upon a landlord before the landlord may be held liable for a breach. The bill expands the acceptable form of such notice to include electronic notice.
The bill also:
- States that if a tenant gives a landlord notice of a condition that is imminently hazardous to life, health, or safety the landlord, at the request of the tenant, shall move the tenant to a comparable dwelling unit, as selected by the landlord, at no expense or cost to the tenant, or to a hotel room, as selected by the landlord, at no expense or cost to the tenant.
- Allows a tenant who satisfies certain conditions to deduct from one or more rent payments the cost to repair or remedy a condition causing a breach;
- Repeals the requirement that a tenant notify a local government before seeking an injunction for a breach;
- Repeals provisions that allow a rental agreement to require a tenant to assume certain responsibilities concerning conditions and characteristics of a premises;
- Creates an exception for single-family residence premises for which a landlord does not receive a subsidy from any governmental source, by which exception a landlord and tenant may agree in writing that the tenant is to perform specific repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, and remodeling, subject to certain requirements:
- Prohibits a landlord from retaliating against a tenant in response to the tenant having made a good-faith complaint to the landlord or to a governmental agency alleging a condition that renders the premises uninhabitable or any condition that materially interferes with the health or safety of the tenant; and
- Repeals certain presumptions and specifies monetary damages that may be available to a tenant against whom a landlord retaliates.
The bill states that if the same condition that substantially caused a breach recurs within 6 months after the condition is repaired or remedied, other than a condition that merely involves a nonfunctioning appliance, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement 14 days after providing the landlord written or electronic notice of the tenant's intent to do so. In the case of a condition that merely involves a nonfunctioning appliance, if the landlord remedies the condition within 14 days after receiving the notice, the tenant may not terminate the rental agreement.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)