Convergence in Contort: Landlord Liability for Defective Premises in Comparative Perspective

The relatively recent transformation of landlord-tenant law has imported into the common law landlord-tenant relationship a number of obligations that have been recognized in civil law leases for centuries.Thus the common law's embrace of an implied warranty of habitability closed a long-existing gulf between the two legal traditions' approaches to the obligations of residential landlords. In both traditions today, breach of the landlord's obligation to provide a safe and habitable dwelling gives rise to traditional contractual remedies, including termination of the lease and damages.However, the treatment of personal injuries, property damage, and nonpecuniary losses continues to differ across jurisdictional lines. While American tenants who suffer such losses are largely restricted to a tort theory of recovery, civil law tenants have both contractual and tort theories at their disposal. This Article turns to the civilian tradition to determine whether this concurrent approach to landlord liability better allocates the risk of harm between residential landlords and their tenants.