What Is Constructive Eviction
A constructive eviction occurs when a landlord fails to live up to their responsibilities of a lease. Landlords are required to provide certain elements to a rental property, including a clean and sanitary property. Hot water must be provided and maintenance must be performed to allow the unit to be inhabitable. As soon as a property becomes uninhabitable, a constructive eviction may occur.
Tenants Qualify For Damages in a Constructive Eviction
It's to the landlord's benefit to avoid a constructive eviction at all costs. Once a property is classified as being uninhabitable, the tenant in most states has the immediate ability to terminate the lease, move from the property, and seek damages from the landlord. Landlords do not tell tenants that they must leave in a constructive eviction. The conditions of the property force it upon the tenant. Tenants have all of the legal remedies that are available to more traditional evictions procedures as well. If they have legal fees and win the case, the landlord may be ordered to pay them. Security deposits are generally awarded in full and some landlord-tenant laws allow for triple damages to be awarded on top of that. Landlords may even be ordered to pay for the cost that a tenant incurs from moving.
What Must a Tenant Do To Maintain Action?
If a tenant wishes to pursue damages from their landlord, they must be able to show two specific pieces of evidence to the court to provide the necessary burden of proof.
1. The conditions that made the property uninhabitable must have been because of the landlord's negligence and not the negligence of a third party or themselves.
2. The tenant must have vacated the property in question in a reasonable amount of time. In other words, if a rental unit becomes uninhabitable, but the tenant continues to live there 4 additional weeks before moving out, then the courts may determine that a constructive eviction was not achieved. Constructive evictions are something that should be avoided at all costs. It ruins the value of the property, opens up the possibility of litigation, and eliminates a revenue stream. Fix emergency issues quickly, maintain the property properly, and you won't have to worry about this event happening to you.
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