Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2007

Disciplines

Contracts | Housing Law | Law | Legal Remedies | Property Law and Real Estate

Abstract

A recent conference on housing rights invited participants to think about the impacts, actual and potential, of the judge-made doctrine of the implied warranty of habitability in residential tenancies. This essay focuses on the warranty, and suggests establishing technology systems for judges to help them give new
life to the doctrine and thereby to accelerate actual repair of rental housing through court mandates.

The conference attendees seemed to agree that when trial judges are presented with claimed breaches of the warranty of habitability, they have not, on the whole, used the doctrine to order that repairs actually be effectuated. They do not rule on habitability requirements. They should.

My suggestion for cultivating stronger judicial responses to breaches of the warranty of habitability is two fold: a reinvigoration of the remedy of specific performance and a court technology system with a series of computer screens structured to prompt judges through repair-related information gathering, retrieval, and adjudication steps, leading efficiently to outcomes that link the application of the warranty of habitability doctrine to real world improvements in rental premises.

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