Implied Warranty of Habitability

Last Updated: September 29, 2023 by Roberto Valenzuela

The implied warranty of habitability requires basic health and safety on rental property. It’s illegal for a landlord to rent out a unit that isn’t habitable, no matter what’s in the lease (hence “implied”). Standards for habitability have wide variance depending on state, but every state has at least some law that covers some rentals.

What Does the Implied Warranty of Habitability Cover?

The implied warranty of habitability gives basic protection to tenants. Habitability standards don’t demand perfection. The law doesn’t protect against features which are inconvenient, expensive, ugly, or have minor issues with function.

The most common habitability standard protects against “substantial” health and safety issues. If there are no substantial issues with a feature, the law considers it to be in good and safe working order.

Items the Warranty of Habitability Usually Covers

State and local laws differ, but the warranty of habitability almost always covers the following:

  • Heating.
  • Hot water and clean running water.
  • Essential utilities (almost always electricity, sometimes also gas).
  • Basic sanitation (safe sewage disposal, no mold or pest infestation, etc.).
  • Structural safety (front door closes and locks, no danger of collapsing walls, etc.).

Even states without any habitability statutes, like Pennsylvania, will cover the above types of issues through the implied warranty of habitability.

Most states, like New York, mandate habitability through statutory law. Statutory habitability requirements are usually more specific, and extensive. For example, California has detailed rules for doors, safety devices, garbage containers, and so on.

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Local Versus State-Level Warranties

Most warranties of habitability apply at the state level. Individual cities and counties often can pass housing codes stricter than state-level standards. Always check local housing laws.

For example, Arkansas has a very limited state-level warranty of habitability. It only applies to leases made after November 1, 2021, and only covers a few basic items. Many cities within Arkansas have stricter housing codes than state law provides.

Exceptions to the Warranty of Habitability

The point of an implied warranty of habitability is that it applies no matter what the landlord does. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule.


Most states prohibit waiving the warranty of habitability. This is common in states like Arizona which incorporate a version of the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, or URLTA.

Courts in such states will refuse any waivers the landlord presents. They will also sanction landlords who attempt waiver with intent to avoid the law. Sanctions are financial by default, but can (rarely) include jail time.

Many URLTA states do allow partial waiver in special situations. For instance, Kansas lets certain tenants agree to do certain repairs.

The law almost always prohibits broad waivers. There are still some exceptions. Wyoming, as an example, allows clear and written waivers for any habitability requirement.

Tenant Responsibility

The warranty of habitability almost never covers issues caused by tenants or invitees. This applies both to deliberate actions and unintended consequences of irresponsible behavior. Oregon, for instance, prohibits certain remedies for issues caused by tenant misconduct.