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St. Mary's Law Journal

Publisher

St. Mary's University School of Law

Abstract

Jurisdictions have reassessed the validity of the common law rule of caveat emptor as it relates to landlord-tenant transactions. Courts have imposed the implied warranty of habitability in the wake of the common law rule’s inapplicability to modern leasing situations. The implied warranty better reflects that the modern tenant seeks the use of a habitable dwelling for a temporary period of time. The inability to provide needed changes to the rule through limited exceptions and modifications provides the backdrop for Texas’ rejection of the common law doctrine of caveat emptor. Moreover, the courts have concerns over the harshness of the rule and are willing to adopt the rule of implied warranty that other jurisdictions follow.

Property law has generally governed the relationship of landlord and tenant. The lease was a conveyance of an estate in land for a period of time. The mutual promises of the parties formed the basis for the lease. These promises were not mutually dependent since the rules governing leases of real property solidified under property law doctrine and were not subject to the later-developing contract law concept of mutually dependent promises. Many courts have been unwilling to reject caveat emptor as it applies to the landlord-tenant relationship, despite rejecting the common law rule’s application in other areas of the law. The Texas Supreme Court has argued that the current concepts of what is right and just should replace caveat emptor. The factual assumptions caveat emptor relies on are invalid in light of modern urban cities, so that the implied warrant of habitability should substitute it.

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