House Bill 1166 filed by Rep. Laurie Rushing says that it creates “implied quality standards” for residential rental properties. Such standards come nowhere close to the bare minimum that all other states require. These standards also fall fall short of what good landlords routinely provide. So what’s missing? Here are just a few examples of the most glaring problems.
- First, and most important, the bill does not require the rental property to be safe, structurally sound, or even livable.
- The bill does not require landlords to comply with building and housing codes that materially affect health or safety.
- The bill fails to provide for common areas to be kept safe and fit for use.
- This bill only requires a landlord to supply heating and air conditioning if they worked at the beginning of the lease. This bill only requires landlords to supply electricity, water and sewage that complied with the code when they were installed. This bill only requires landlords to supply a “functioning roof and building envelope,” whatever that is.
- This bill would do nothing to address problems such as a carbon monoxide leak, toxic black mold, broken door locks, or an infestation of rats or cockroaches.
- A tenant’s sole remedy if a landlord doesn’t follow the law is to to ask for termination of the lease and move out. She cannot withhold rent to make repairs, seek damages from a court, make repairs and deduct them from the rent, or even ask a court to require the landlord to make repairs. All these other remedies are available to tenants in most states.
- A landlord is free to retaliate against a tenant who complains to the landlord about the condition of the property or makes a report to housing code enforcement officials by increasing rent, decreasing services, or even evicting the tenant.
- Oppose this bill! Contact your representative and ask him/her to oppose HB1166.