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Richard, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 53669
Experience:  32 years of experience as lawyer in Texas. I'm also a Real Estate developer.
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Ive been renting my house for several years it has a lot of

Customer Question

Ive been renting my house for several years it has a lot of problems but the worst is it is infested with rats and now possums also it started when my landlord had a non licensed contractor do work without getting permits well the city put a stop work order on outside about a year and a half ago since then nothing was done and mager access for these rodents was permitted due to siding not being put back up the landlords never complied with anyone about the permit or anything that i know of was done i continued every month to complain about the rats every month she blow me off well i only get 657.00 a month im disabled my rent is 600.00 the electric and water is in their names they pay those bills well my service dog got very sick last month due to disease caused by the rats or possums not sure which we have killed several possums in the house one was eating on our kitchen counter out of a pan my house isnt dirty or cluttered so its not due to me i had to take dog to vet it costed over 1647.00 dollars to fix my dog from the disease it got from the pests so i didnt pay rent last month i made a vet payment of 600 instead same this month well my landlord text me last night saying she is turning power off at 9 am today if i dont pay her she also told me id have to pay for exterminator i cant afford to pay her and the rest of the vet bill plus an exterminator i also have been sick alot my doctor told me it could be pest related legally what can i do and fast i have no money to pay her
Submitted: 19 days ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 19 days ago.

Hi! My name is Richard & I will be helping you today! It will take me a few minutes to type a response to your question. Thanks for your patience!

Expert:  Richard replied 19 days ago.

Good morning Carrie. First, it's against the law for the landlord to simply shut off the power. That would be a constructive eviction and thus constitute an illegal eviction resulting in the landlord being liable for actual and punitive damages due to his illegal actions, including paying for your room and board elsewhere. Even if you are allegedly in default, if you don't leave, the law does not allow the landlord to forcibly evict you without obtaining an eviction order from a court. What that means is that if you do not move out, the cannot simply change the locks, shut off utilities, or throw your things out. Rather, what the landlord has to do is to first deliver a 10-Day Notice to quit under Washington law...which basically says you have 10 days to leave or face eviction. But, if you still don't leave, the landlord must then file an unlawful detainer petition with the court for an eviction order. Depending upon the court's docket, it can take anywhere from about 15 days to a couple of months to get a hearing. Only when a judge has issued the eviction order can the landlord have the tenant evicted. And, you would get a notice of that hearing and would want to show up to contest the landlord's right; given your facts, you would likely prevail and the landlord's petition would be dismissed.

Your cause of action would be breach of contract by the landlord. With every rental comes the implied warranty of habitability, which includes the tenant's right to the safe, healthy, peaceful and quiet enjoyment of the rented premises. Given your fact situation which directly puts your health and safety in peril, a tenant would clearly not be afforded such enjoyment of the premises....and therefore the landlord would be in breach of the implied warranty of habitability. This puts the landlord in default. This gives you the right to terminate the lease and sue for damages, including the cost of moving plus include reimbursement of a portion of all prior rent to date to compensate for the reduced value of the rental property due to the reduced benefit of your rental bargain due to the inhabitability. Furthermore, although you have the right to terminate the lease due to the breach, you are not required to do so. Rather, you can file a claim against the landlord for damages due to this breach. Damages would include reimbursement of a portion of all prior rent to date to compensate for the reduced value of the rental property due to the problems, and to either reduce the rent going forward or pay you for temporary living expenses, at your option, until the problem is fully remediated.

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