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What is considered uninhabitable under Arkansas law?


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#1 curious_ar

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 02:32 PM

According to plumber-major work needed on sewer and fill lines for the home.  Home smells of sewer. One sewer line in basement being held by duct tape. Sewer has backed up into basement in the past. Evidently lines have started to cave in. Does this make a home uninhabitable?



#2 adjusterjack

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 04:03 PM

According to plumber-major work needed on sewer and fill lines for the home.  Home smells of sewer. One sewer line in basement being held by duct tape. Sewer has backed up into basement in the past. Evidently lines have started to cave in. Does this make a home uninhabitable?

 

I think your real question is "Does this make a home uninhabitable to the point where a tenant can break the lease without consequences?"

 

Unfortunately, in AR, the answer to that question appears to be no.

 

The AR Residential Landlord Tenant Act of 2007 appears to be silent on the issue of a landlord's maintenance obligations but imposes maintenance obligations on the tenant in 18-17-601:

 

http://law.justia.co...er-6/18-17-601/

 

I searched for additional information and found a website that lists habitability statutes by state:

 

http://www.landlord....es-by-state.htm

 

And for AR it says:

 

"According to the Arkansas Attorney General, a tenant who rents a residence takes it as is, and the landlord has no further obligation to maintain the premises.  The only obligation the landlord has is to meet city building codes."

 

And then refers to a case decision (Propst v McNeill) of the AR Supreme Court.

 

The full decision is at:

 

http://scholar.googl...l=en&as_sdt=4,4

 

The court found that the defendant had not agreed to undertake any duty to repair or maintain the premises and only an express agreement or assumption of duty by conduct can remove a landlord from the general rule of nonliability.

 

So, the next question is do you have a written lease and does it say anything about the landlord having a duty to maintain.

 

Also keep in mind that the condition of the sewer might be a code violation if the landlord doesn't fix it but that is between the landlord and the regulating authority.

 

Also keep in mind that in the event of damage to your belongings, you might have recourse after the fact based on negligence.

 

But my conclusion after reading Propst is that you don't get to move out without the potential consequences of being sued for breach of the lease or rental agreement.

 

On the other hand, only you can decide if your self-preservation outweighs the risk of getting sued later.


Warning: Legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here are simplified and might not fully explain the ramifications of your particular issue. I am not a lawyer. I do not give legal advice. I make comments based on my knowledge and experience. I guarantee nothing. If you act on my comments without the advice of an attorney, you do so at your own risk.


#3 Guest_FindLaw_Amir_*

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 07:12 AM

Are you a tenant? If you are, then you may be interested in visiting the Real Estate Law Center: Landlord Tenant Law and reading Repairs and Maintenance as a good resource.  If you need further clarification on your specific situation, you may consider signing up for a LegalStreet plan. With the plan, you have unlimited access to a local lawyer to ask your questions and the plan also offers discounted legal representation should you need it.

Disclosure: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.



 






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