Renting out a commercial or residential space involves certain expectations from the landlord. The lease outlines the agreement’s terms and conditions in writing. For example, the landlord expects payment of a specific amount at predetermined times, such as the end of the month or quarterly. They are also obliged to follow all state and local building codes. If the landlord’s rental property fails to meet building codes and does not address the tenant’s formal request for the space to meet legal standards, the tenant can file a material noncompliance lawsuit.
Warrant of habitability duties in Colorado
Landlords must ensure that their property meets the following guidelines:
- A roof, outside walls, windows and doors that do not leak and provide weather protection.
- Plumbing and gas infrastructure, appliances and fixtures are in good order, connected to the appropriate sewer system, and compliant with all building codes.
- It must have hot and cold running water with proper drainage.
- It must have functional heating equipment that is compliant at the time it was installed.
- Electrical lighting that was up to code when installed and still in good working order.
- They must adequately maintain common areas, keeping them free of pests, bugs, rubbish or trash.
- Employ the correct number of trash receptacles.
- Secure locks or security devices on exterior doors
- Exterior windows that open and close.
- No mold or dampness that could compromise the tenant’s health.
- They must address anything else that poses a material hazard or danger to the tenant.
Violations make the property legally uninhabitable.
Tenants can take action
Each case is different, but the tenant has a right to the following:
- Withhold payment: Not paying rent will get the landlord’s attention. Setting up an escrow account for deposits is recommended until violations are addressed, or the court orders payment.
- Repair: Tenants can hire a professional to do the work and deduct the cost from their rent but be sure to provide receipts.
- Court order: The courts can order the landlord to make repairs.
- File a lawsuit: The tenant may recover rents paid while the space was inhabitable.
Disputes are not unusual
Not all tenants and landlords have good working relationships, so disagreements over the issue and how to best address it can involve litigation. Those with questions regarding compliance and their lease agreement can discuss the matter with an experienced attorney who handles real estate disputes. They can review the case and potentially represent their client in court.