Constructive Eviction – The Case of Steve vs Billy

Constructive Eviction and the Implied Warranty of Habitability

Steve is renting a property from Billy.  One evening Steve tripped and fell down the stairs. The issue is that one of the stairs in the common area was faulty. Billy knew about the stair, but he had never got around to fixing it.  Steve injured his leg, so he decided to return to his room. The heater was not working (and it was in the middle of winter). Steve had told Billy about the faulty heater for months, but Billy never got around to fixing it. There is a local ordinance that requires landlords to repair heaters.  Additionally, assume that this jurisdiction includes the implied warranty of habitability. The jurisdiction recognizes constructive eviction, and it follows the majority rule of when landlords are liable for injuries.

  • What causes of action does Steve have?
  • What remedies does he have for the faulty heater?

Constructive Eviction – The Case of Steve vs Billy – Sample Answer

The tenant holds some rights with regard to lease of a property, and these rights includes right to a habitable environment. However, sometimes the landlord can evict tent legally or illegally through constructive eviction (Lee, 2011). Constructive eviction occurs when the landlord neglects his duty to provide a habitable environment as enacted under the Warranty of Habitability. The implied warranty of habitability requires that the property owner provide a premise that is fit for use. In the case of Steve vs. Billy, the property owner failed to observe the warranty of habitability, therefore, Billy has a number of causes of actions to take against the landlord for the violation of the jurisdiction.

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The Causes of Actions Available to Steve

            In the case, Steve had informed Billy about the faulty staircase and the heater. However, Billy neglected his duties as governed by the Warranty of Habitability. Therefore, he is liable for the injuries caused to Steve. Steve can seek for constructive eviction claims that were incurred due to the injuries sustained when he fell in the staircase. According to (National Paralegal College, 2016), it is the duty of the landlord to provide a habitable environment. An inhabitable environment is defined by a premise that has all the necessary equipment functioning and includes repair and maintenance of property and equipment such as heaters. These elements must always be functioning effectively.

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            Alternatively, Steve can choose to move out of the premise and find another habitable environment. Since the he had been paying for the rent under the terms of lease as provided in their agreement, the fact that his rights have been violated offers him a right to move and terminate the agreement. Therefore, he can inform the landlord about the constructive eviction, move out and terminate the agreement without paying any rent that was due.

            The other cause of action that Steve can take is to reduce or withhold payment of rent until the court dully determines his case. The Warranty of Habitability offers the tenant the right to withhold any rent payments until the case is determined by the court of law as to what would constitute the appropriate deductions to cover the damages. Steve had informed Billy of the faulty staircase and the heater, and has the right under the Warranty of Habitability. Since he would be waiting for the damages, he could still withhold or reduce rent payments until the court of law determines his case.

The Remedies that Steve Has Over the Faulty Heater

            Steve can exercise two remedies over the faulty heater. First, Steve could choose to apply the implied covenant of habitability. Under the jurisdiction, it is the duty of the landlord to make repairs and maintenance of equipment in a premise. The failure of Billy to carry out the repairs for the faulty heater is a violation of the warranty of habitability and Steve has a right to sue for the damages that would result for lack of proper heating during the winter.

            Alternatively, Steve can repair the heater and make deductions for the cost of repairs. Since winter is a cold season, it this requires an effective heating system. However, under the common law (Xie & Liao, 2013), the landlord has a duty to make repairs of the property after the tenant has take it. However, since Billy had been informed about the faulty heater, to which he had neglected, Steve can repair it.  However, since the repairs come at a cost, the tenant (Steve) can make the repairs and inform the landlord, after which he would make deductions for the costs of repairs from the rent payments.

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