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 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 a functioning refrigerator, range, or oven, if the landlord provides any of these appliances pursuant to the rental agreement; 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 and small claims 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 reasonably comparable unit under the control of the landlord or pay for a tenant to reside in a reasonably comparable temporary living location while the condition is being remedied or repaired;
- 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;
- 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.
If the same condition that substantially caused a breach recurs within 6 months after the condition is repaired or remedied, 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.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)