Can we terminate our lease if roach infestation has made our rental uninhabitable?

Question Details:We wired money from out-of-state. After paying them we found out there is a roach problem. We have been here 5 days and it is terrible. I just spoke to the pest company that came out before we moved in and found out that they told the owners that the infestation is severe and the house uninhabitable. The pest company advised not renting it out. Now the owners are trying to stick us with the cost of dealing with it and my son has asthma. I am afraid to even bring food into the house. The pest company won't come back since they feel that the owner is dishonest having rented the house to us with out telling how bad it was.

Asked 5 years ago under Landlord / Tenant | 6800 Views | More Legal Topics

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S.L,. Member, California Bar | FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney Answered 5 years ago

Yes, you can terminate the lease.  In every lease there is an implied warranty of habitability which requires that the premises be in compliance with local or state housing codes.  The implied warranty of habitability and the tenant's duty to pay rent are mutually dependent covenants which means that a breach of the implied warranty of habitability allows the tenant to withhold rent and move out.  Another option would be to withhold rent and if you decide to stay (which seems unlikely) defend against eviction.

You could sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability as the roach infestation is a health and safety issue.  Your lawsuit should also include a separate cause of action (claim) for fraud for nondisclosure of the roach infestation.

Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation (or nondisclosure) of a material fact made with knowledge of its falsity and with the intent to induce your reliance causing you damage.  The landlord did not disclose the roach problem in order to induce you to rent the house.  The landlord is liable for the cost involved in getting rid of the roach infestation.

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