Uninhabitable living conditions Law & Legal Definition


There are no strict legal definitions for the term uninhabitable living conditions. Generally speaking it is some condition that makes the living in a home or premises impossible. Aesthetics such as an ugly paint color or worn carpet generally do not render a property unihabitable. Defects or conditions such as a missing window, broken front security gate, absence of deadbolt locks on exterior doors, a defective electrical outlet, something unhealthy like cockroaches or mold, dangerous criminal activity particularly gangs, drugs and burglaries, an unlit stairway , stagnant swimming pool, an inefficient heater or air conditioner, low water pressure, slow drain or even a bad smell, or noise can render a place uninhabitable. In other words technical violation like using the wrong type of screw would not be making a house uninhabitable. Usually the term has significance in a landlord tenant relationship. The rented premises must always meet minimum standards of habitability including compliance with applicable building codes.

In Tennessee, Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-111-102 says that the state department of health shall establish and distribute to each county and public health department of the state minimum health standards in the rental of any premises; these standards shall establish living and building conditions of a dwelling that render it unfit for human habitation.

Further, § 66-28-304 (2) says that the Landlord should make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition. § 66-28-401 imposes a corresponding obligation on the tenant to keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises when the tenant took possession.

Further as per § 68-111-103 any tenant or third party complainant may file a complaint with the building inspector of the city or county in which the rented premises are located or with the county public health department in which the tenant's rented premises are located, if the premises are, in the opinion of the tenant or complainant and the building inspector or the public health department, in violation of the minimum health standards and consequently unfit for human habitation. This section is effective only until July 1, 2009 after which only a tenant can file complaint.