Tenants' Right to Clean Water

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Landlords are required to provide clean water in nearly every jurisdiction. If a landlord fails to fix a problem with contaminated water quickly, then the tenant can move out and break the lease. If the contamination was latent, caused the tenant health issues, and the landlord was aware of the problem, then the landlord is likely liable for medical and other costs. Other companies may also be liable if they have infected a city’s water source. Landlords are not responsible for providing water that smells and tastes good, just water that is safe.

Getting the Water Fixed

Many local authorities require and enforce safe drinking water standards. Tenants can reach out to local authorities and report the problem under local housing laws. This may put pressure on the landlord to fix the problem, since authorities may impose fines or issue court orders requiring immediate fixes. Tenants may also take the landlord to landlord-tenant court, where the judge may require the landlord to fix the water. If the problem affects several tenants, perhaps in the same building, the tenants can work together to share the costs of a lawyer or to negotiate more effectively as a group.

Breaking the Lease

Tenants can generally break their lease if the water is dangerous to use or drink and the landlord has not fixed the problem in a reasonable time. Under the "implied warranty of habitability," landlords are responsible for providing and maintaining safe apartments for their tenants. It’s included in every lease automatically, even if the lease says the landlord is not responsible. Generally, it requires that the apartment is safe and sanitary. Where the apartment isn’t, the landlord is considered to have breached their implied promise to provide a safe and “habitable” apartment to the tenant. Unsafe water is almost universally considered to be a breach of the implied warranty of habitability. If the landlord fails to fix the problem quickly, the tenant can break their lease. Landlords are responsible for the cost of fixes required to provide safe water to tenants.

Medical Costs

If a tenant knows the water is unsafe and continues to drink and use it, they usually cannot recover medical costs since they could have easily avoided the harm. However, sometimes the landlord may have falsely assured tenants the water is healthy or the water may look and taste normal. In such case, the landlord is liable if they knew (or should have known) about the bad water, did not fix the problem in a reasonable time since they discovered it, the cost was reasonable, and the landlord’s negligence caused foreseeable injuries. The critical element in recovering medical fees from landlords is when the landlord first knew about the problem, so tenants should notify the landlord immediately and document the problem. Sometimes bad water is caused by the water company, power companies, or corporations dumping chemicals. In such case, tenants should seek a good class action attorney to bring a case against the company. These cases often take years, so tenants should start looking for a new apartment while they wait.

Caused by a Company

Sometimes a company may dump chemicals that end up in the water supply or a utility company may fail to properly clean water. Even though the problem is not the landlord’s fault, the tenant is not required to continue living in an apartment that is unsafe. The tenant may break the lease on the grounds that the landlord has violated the promise to provide a safe apartment (the “implied warranty of habitability”). The landlord is free to sue the company for the loss in value of their apartments. Tenants are also able to sue the company for any negative health effects, cost of moving, medical bills, and any other costs caused by the bad water.

Getting the Water Fixed


Many local authorities require and enforce safe drinking water standards. Tenants can reach out to local authorities and report the problem under local housing laws. This may put pressure on the landlord to fix the problem, since authorities may impose fines or issue court orders requiring immediate fixes. Tenants may also take the landlord to landlord-tenant court, where the judge may require the landlord to fix the water. If the problem affects several tenants, perhaps in the same building, the tenants can work together to share the costs of a lawyer or to negotiate more effectively as a group.

Breaking the Lease


Tenants can generally break their lease if the water is dangerous to use or drink and the landlord has not fixed the problem in a reasonable time.

Under the "implied warranty of habitability," landlords are responsible for providing and maintaining safe apartments for their tenants. It’s included in every lease automatically, even if the lease says the landlord is not responsible. Generally, it requires that the apartment is safe and sanitary. Where the apartment isn’t, the landlord is considered to have breached their implied promise to provide a safe and “habitable” apartment to the tenant. Unsafe water is almost universally considered to be a breach of the implied warranty of habitability. If the landlord fails to fix the problem quickly, the tenant can break their lease. Landlords are responsible for the cost of fixes required to provide safe water to tenants.

Medical Costs


If a tenant knows the water is unsafe and continues to drink and use it, they usually cannot recover medical costs since they could have easily avoided the harm.

However, sometimes the landlord may have falsely assured tenants the water is healthy or the water may look and taste normal. In such case, the landlord is liable if they knew (or should have known) about the bad water, did not fix the problem in a reasonable time since they discovered it, the cost was reasonable, and the landlord’s negligence caused foreseeable injuries. The critical element in recovering medical fees from landlords is when the landlord first knew about the problem, so tenants should notify the landlord immediately and document the problem.

Sometimes bad water is caused by the water company, power companies, or corporations dumping chemicals. In such case, tenants should seek a good class action attorney to bring a case against the company. These cases often take years, so tenants should start looking for a new apartment while they wait.

Caused by a Company


Sometimes a company may dump chemicals that end up in the water supply or a utility company may fail to properly clean water. Even though the problem is not the landlord’s fault, the tenant is not required to continue living in an apartment that is unsafe. The tenant may break the lease on the grounds that the landlord has violated the promise to provide a safe apartment (the “implied warranty of habitability”). The landlord is free to sue the company for the loss in value of their apartments. Tenants are also able to sue the company for any negative health effects, cost of moving, medical bills, and any other costs caused by the bad water.

Last Update : July 22, 2018 UTC

Comments discussing Contaminated Water

about 2 years ago
5
votes

My landlord has contracted a company to use a water softener to change the pH of water made hard & dirty during construction behind our building which was completed 3-1/2 years ago. Because they used too much of the base softening chemicals they sought to correct the pH by adding chlorine, which is standard procedure in such cases. However, they have now added too much chlorine resulting in water in the kitchen and bathroom to smell and take like water in a swimming pool.

The base pH water

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Renter in New York, NY, USA
Contaminated Water