One of the most common disputes in real estate concerns the habitability of a property. The law requires that landlords must maintain the implied warranty of habitability for their properties. This means that tenants have the right to expect their residence to be reasonably fit for human habitation. Habitability complaints can encompass a wide range of issues including waste removal, pest control, mold, lack of water or heat, structural and plumbing issues, and other issues that impact the general habitability of the property. Whether you find yourself involved as a plaintiff or defendant in such a case, retaining a real estate expert witness can provide the key to victory in court. Today we’ll examine 3 reasons you should consult a real estate expert witness on a complaint of habitability or wrongful eviction.
1. Get an Expert Analysis of the Property
In any legal dispute, you need evidence to back your case. Having a real estate expert witness evaluate the property through an on-site inspection can provide solid evidence to back your claim. An expert opinion from a property manager or building inspector can help identify and document the factors that will sway the opinion of the court in your favor. Their testimony will help convince the judge or jury whether or not the home or apartment building is up to code, structurally intact, or meets the necessary sanitation standards. A real estate expert witness can also help to determine who is really at fault before you go to court – a move that could potentially save you costly court expenses.
2. Habitability vs Wrongful Eviction Claims
Sometimes a habitability issue can lead to a wrongful eviction claim via constructive eviction. For example, if a tenant has recently raised issues involving the presence of mold in a dwelling unit and has seemingly faced retaliation by the landlord in the form of eviction, an increase in rent, harassment, or other retaliatory acts, the issue can quickly devolve into a wrongful eviction claim. The tenant may state that conditions were so bad that the unit was unfit to occupy, or the situation was untenable. Consulting a real estate expert witness can determine the legitimacy of the claim. While a habitability complaint is serious, a wrongful eviction case can end up being far more costly. By consulting a real estate expert witness on the issue, you can determine if it is worth going to court or if reaching a settlement will be cheaper in the long run.
3. Determine if the Standard of Care Has Been Met
Finally, the testimony of an expert’s objective opinion on your case can help a judge or jury to determine if the expected standard of care has been met. Their expertise can speak to whether a reasonable landlord has done everything they can to meet the implied warranty of habitability. Expert testimony can help determine if the landlord has taken the proper steps to rectify the concern in a timely manner, or if the underlying issue was caused by the negligence of the tenant. Testimony of a property manager expert witness can also advise the court if reasonable efforts were made to communicate about and resolve the situation. They can also determine if there was a clear act of bad faith by one party or another. Ultimately, having a real estate expert witness provide their testimony to back your case can go a long way in convincing a judge or jury that you have met the standard of care required by law.
Your case is only as strong as the evidence you provide. When entering litigation of a habitability or wrongful eviction complaint, the testimony of a real estate expert witness can exponentially increase your odds of seeing victory on your day in court. At Edrington & Associates, we offer decades of experience in property management and building inspection. When you need professional consultation involving habitability, wrongful eviction complaints or other legal issues in real estate, our expertise is at your disposal.