Residential Tenants Health And Safety Act
Tenants and landlords - warranty of habitability - breach of warranty - tenants' remedies. Under current law, a warranty of habitability (warranty) is implied in every rental agreement for a residential premises. The act states that, except in cases involving a condition that is based on the presence of mold, a landlord commits a breach of the warranty (breach) if the residential premises is:
- Uninhabitable or otherwise unfit for human habitation or in a condition that materially interferes with 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 materially interferes with the tenant's life, health, or safety; or
- 96 hours, where the premises is uninhabitable or otherwise unfit for human habitation and the tenant has included with the notice permission for the landlord or the landlord's authorized agent to enter the residential premises.
For cases involving a residential premises that has mold that is associated with dampness, or where there is any other condition causing the residential premises to be damp, which condition, if not remedied, would materially interfere with the life, health, or safety of a tenant, a landlord commits a breach if the landlord fails:
- Within 96 hours after receiving reasonably complete written or electronic notice of the condition, to mitigate immediate risk of mold by installing a containment, stopping active sources of water to the mold, and installing a high-efficiency particulate air filtration device to reduce tenants' exposure to mold;
- To maintain the containment until certain acts have been performed; and
- Within a reasonable amount of time, to execute certain remedial actions to remove the health risk posed by mold.
Current law provides a list of conditions that render a residential premises uninhabitable. To this list, the act 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 residential premises to be damp, which condition, if not remedied, would materially interfere with the health or safety of the tenant, excluding the presence of mold that is minor and found on surfaces that can accumulate moisture as part of their proper functioning and intended use.
The act grants jurisdiction to county courts to provide injunctive relief related to a breach.
The act also:
- States that if a tenant gives a landlord notice of a condition that materially interferes with the tenant's life, health, or safety, the landlord, at the request of the tenant, shall provide the tenant a comparable dwelling unit, as selected by the landlord, at no expense or cost to the tenant, or 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 residential 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 life, health, or safety of the tenant;
- Repeals certain presumptions that favor landlords; and
- Specifies monetary damages that may be available to a tenant against whom a landlord retaliates.
The act 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 a case concerning 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 this bill as enacted.)