Briefcase: Paying Rent on Uninhabitable Property

Guest: Ryan Marquez


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When Hurricane Harvey damaged tenants' homes, many thought they could stop paying rent until repairs were made. Ryan Marquez, with The University of Houston Law Center, is a professor of practice for the Hurricane Consumer Assistance Project.

When asked if rent payments are excused when the property is no longer habitable, Marquez responded "No. When Texas did away with common law warranties, one result was renters were not promised habitable homes – unless their leases expressly provided that guarantee. The implied warranty of habitability was lost.”

Professor Marquez also mentioned several options renters need to know:

  • If a rental property is uninhabitable, cancel the lease by giving written notice to the landlord.
  • If it's partially unusable, go to court to request a reduction of rent.
  • If you're current on your rent, request repairs improve improve health or safety.
  • If no effort is made to fix problems, cancel the lease and seek judicial remedies.

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