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Abstract

Virtually every member of the urban community is a party to a landlord-tenant relationship. As the general tenor of urban life in America changes, so must the laws which govern the urban dweller. For years the doctrine of caveat emptor prevented the tenant from forcing the landlord to make necessary repairs or to retain the leased premises in a habitable condition. The doctrine of constructive eviction afforded him little relief; and housing and sanitation codes, while achieving a measure of success, were generally ineffective. Only when conditions because unbearable did the law protect him. Increasingly, however, the trend has been to enlarge the responsibilities of the landowner, through such devises as rent strikes, rent abatement, and the warranty of habitability. This has been due, in large measure, to the recognition of the need for quality housing, the unequal bargaining positions of the landlord and tenant, and the changed status of the tenant from rural to urban. The cases which serve as the focus of this Note, whereas contract and tort theories are used in novel ways to impose greater duties on landowners, are the most recent developments in this progression.

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