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Constructive Eviction Laws

Constructive eviction is a legal concept that allows you to leave your rental and stop paying rent if it is either unfit or if your landlord is disrupting your ability to enjoy it.

Most states have laws that allow you to leave your rental unit without any penalties, and without paying any more rent, in two scenarios.

The first scenario is if the conditions are unsafe or unhealthy. This is covered by the warranty of habitability. Although all states have their own definition of what specifically makes a unit fit or unfit for you to live in, you can generally assume that if you are not being sheltered from the outside, have insufficient heat, plumbing or electricity then your rental unit isn't habitable and you can leave via constructive eviction. If you don't want to leave, then you can also stay and withhold rent until your landlord makes repairs or fix the problem yourself and deduct it from the rent.

The second scenario for constructive eviction is when your landlord has violated your right to quiet enjoyment. If your landlord or anyone else claims interest in your rental by, for example, demanding to use it even if you don't want them to, this would be breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Quiet enjoyment, like the warranty of habitability, is implied in every rental lease. If your lease says anything to contrary then it is not valid.

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