The bill modifies existing warranty of habitability laws by clarifying actions that constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability (breach) and procedures for both landlords and tenants when a warranty of habitability claim (claim) is alleged by the tenant. Updates to existing warranty of habitability laws include:
- Establishing time frames for when a landlord must communicate with the tenant and commence remedial action after having actual or constructive notice of a condition related to the habitability of a residential premises;
- Requiring a landlord to perform conduct to address an uninhabitable condition until such condition is completely remedied or repaired;
- Establishing a rebuttable presumption that a landlord has failed the landlord's duty to remedy or repair a condition if the condition continues to exist either 7 or 14 days after the landlord has actual or constructive notice of the condition, depending on the condition at issue in the tenant's claim;
- Determining when a landlord is presumed to have actual or constructive notice of a condition;
- Requiring a landlord to provide a tenant with a comparable dwelling unit or hotel room under certain circumstances while the landlord addresses any uninhabitable conditions that materially interfere with the tenant's life, health, or safety;
- Requiring a landlord to maintain all records, including correspondence and other documentation, relevant to a tenant's claim and any remedial actions taken by the landlord;
- Establishing procedures for when a landlord may enter the dwelling unit of a tenant to address an uninhabitable condition and identifying circumstances when a tenant may deny a landlord entry to the dwelling unit;
- Clarifying certain conditions or characteristics of residential premises that are considered uninhabitable;
- Establishing that there is a rebuttable presumption that certain conditions and characteristics of a residential premises materially interfere with a tenant's life, health, or safety; and
- Modifying and clarifying a tenant's option for remedies when bringing a claim against a landlord and modifying procedures for accessing those remedies.
The bill establishes legal standards and court procedures related to claims, including authorizing a tenant to raise a breach as an affirmative defense against a landlord's action for possession or action of collection against the tenant. The bill also establishes legal standards and procedures for a landlord's defense to a claim and limitations on a tenant's claim. The bill instructs the court in its calculation of actual and punitive damages for breach cases.
The bill prohibits retaliation and specifies what tenant actions are protected by the prohibition on retaliation and what actions constitute retaliation by the landlord.
The bill clarifies the jurisdiction of the attorney general and county and district courts over matters related to violations of the warranty of habitability.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)