Remedies Available to the Tenant
What action may the tenant take if the landlord breaches the agreement?
According to §47-8-27.1, if the owner breaches the rental agreement or does not fulfill his or her obligations under the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act, the tenant may either:
- Terminate the Lease. If the breach consists of material noncompliance with the rental agreement or noncompliance with the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act that materially affects health or safety, then the tenant may give the owner written notice of the acts or omissions constituting the breach. The notice should state that the rental agreement will terminate in seven days if the acts or omissions constituting the breach are not remedied within that time. If the owner does not make a reasonable effort to remedy the problems within those seven days, the rental agreement is terminated, and the owner must return the balance, if any, of prepaid rent or deposit to which the tenant is entitled.
- Abate the Rent. The tenant may assert a claim for abatement of rent (see next question for details).
In addition, the tenant may sue to recover damages or obtain an injunction against the landlord for any material noncompliance by the owner with the rental agreement or the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act. §47-8-27.1(C). If the tenant prevails, then the tenant should also be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs. §47-8-48(A). The complaining party has a duty to mitigate damages. §47-8-6(A).
The tenant may not give a seven-day notice and abate the rent during the same rental period. §§47-8-27.1(A) and -27.2(A) & (B).
Is the tenant allowed to abate the rent when the landlord fails to fulfill his or her obligations?
If the landlord violates his obligations under §47-8-20(A)(1)-(6) (see [and link to] What are the obligations of the landlord to the tenant? above), in a manner other than a failure or defect in an amenity of the unit, the tenant must give written notice to the owner of the conditions needing repair. §47-8-27.1(A). (An amenity is a facility or area supplied by the owner that is not necessary for the health and safety of the resident or the habitability of the dwelling unit, such as a swimming pool or tennis court. §47-8-3(C).) If the landlord does not remedy the conditions set out in the notice within seven days of the notice, the tenant is entitled to abate rent as follows:
- one-third of the pro-rata daily rent for each day from the date the tenant notifies the landlord of the conditions needing repair, through the day the conditions in the notice are remedied. If the landlord does not make the repairs through the subsequent rental period, the tenant may continue to abate the rent at the same rate until the conditions are remedied; and
- one hundred percent of the rent, if the dwelling is uninhabitable and the tenant cannot stay there, for each day from the date the resident notifies the landlord of the conditions needing repair until the date the conditions are remedied.§47-8-27.2.
If the tenant chooses the remedy of abatement of the rent, then the tenant may not invoke an alternate remedy under §47-8-27.1 (seven-day notice and/or suit for damages) during that same rental period. §§47-8-27.1(A) and -27.2(A) & (B).