While it’s common knowledge that a tenant must pay rent on time, keep utilities the running, and adhere to various other lease provisions (e.g. routine maintenance, limits on pets and guests), it’s also true that landlords must abide by lease agreements.
Some landlords may attempt to violate a lease agreement by asking tenants to leave prior to the contracted lease period, failing to make certain repairs, violating health and safety conditions, or otherwise making the property inhabitable.
If a landlord fails to live up to a lease agreement and provide a habitable space, tenants may find recourse by reporting violations to local housing authorities, the city building inspector, or a statewide tenant resource center. Try an online search for “tenant rights” in your state to locate possible resources.
Tenants should communicate with their landlord in writing and keep records of all violations and communication. Seek help from a lawyer before attempting any other steps, such as rent deductions, rent withholding or abandonment.