David A. Super

The Rise and Fall of the Implied Warrant of Habitability

Growing concern about poverty in the late 1960s produced two sweeping legal revolutions. One gave welfare recipients specific legal rights against arbitrary eligibility rules and benefit terminations. The other gave low-income tenants recourse when landlords failed to repair their homes. The 1996 welfare law exposed the welfare rights revolution’s frailty by ending Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and severely cutting other key programs. Little noticed by legal scholars, the tenants’ rights revolution’s centerpiece, the implied warranty of habitability, also has failed, and for broadly similar reasons.