Questions – Hilder v. St.
- Why do courts and legislatures impose a "warranty
of habitability" in residential leases? What are the policies served by the warranty?
- What is the scope of the warranty? What are the obligations of the
landlord under the warranty?
- What are the remedies available to a tenant when the
landlord breaches the warranty?
Can the tenant simply withhold a portion of the rent and then raise
the landlord's breach of the warranty as a defense when the landlord
brings an unlawful detainer action for non-payment of rent?
- What formula for damages does the court apply for
breach of the Implied Warranty of Habitability? Compare the formula in
Hilder to the formula in California Code of Civil Procedure § 1174.2 (in
your Supplement). Which formula makes more sense?
- What are the monetary damages suffered by a
tenant when the landlord breaches the warranty? Keep in mind the following
scenario: T leases an apartment for 2 years at a monthly rent of $250.
This is the fair market value of the apartment, even though the condition
of the apartment violates the "warranty of habitability." If the
landlord fixed the condition of the apartment so that it is in compliance
with the warranty, the fair market value would be $350 per month. What are T's damages for breach of the
- Can the landlord and tenant agree to waive the
warranty at the time the lease is entered into? Suppose that the lease
states: "T and L agree that the apartment is not in compliance with
provisions of the building code dealing with health and safety. However,
the rent is well below market rates and, therefore, T agrees to waive the
implied warranty of habitability and accepts the apartment "as
is." The parties understand
that L would not agree to rent the apartment at this below market rent if
L is required to make repairs."