Published in Real Estate on August 24, 2017
When a tenant rents an apartment or a home from a landlord for his or her residence in the State of Missouri, there is an IMPLIED WARRANTY OF HABITABILITY that comes with the lease. To say it another way, each time a landlord rents a residential apartment or house to a tenant, the landlord automatically assures the tenant that the apartment or house is habitable and fit for living at the beginning of the lease, and will remain that way during the entire term of the lease.
Missouri’s Implied Warranty of Habitability
In Missouri, it is possible for a landlord to become liable to a tenant if the rented apartment or home (through no fault of the tenant) has problems that would materially affect the health and safety of the tenant and the landlord fails to remedy the problems in a reasonable time after the tenant notifies the landlord of the problems.
Examples of Poor Tenant Living Conditions
Some examples of conditions that may materially affect the health and safety of the tenant could include: hazardous mold, exposed electrical wiring, insufficient fire blocking protection, or rotting or deteriorating floors, infestation of bedbugs or other infestations. Again, the landlord will not be liable for a breach of an implied warranty of habitability for any problems with the apartment or house caused by the tenant’s conduct.
What Happens If You Breach the Implied Warranty of Hability?
In Missouri, if a landlord breaches the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant under certain circumstances may be able to withhold rent from the landlord and to stay in possession of the property until the landlord has fixed the problems with habitability. However, the tenant should consult with their attorney before withholding rent from their landlord, and even though the tenant may be able to withhold rent from the landlord, the tenant should always keep the money for rent available and (with their attorney’s assistance) either pay the rent into court to be held by the circuit clerk or pay the rent into a separate bank account that can be opened to hold the rent until the dispute is resolved.