The people behind Flavor Flav's Michigan chicken joint claim their landlords DON'T DESERVE RENT ... because the guys who own the building exposed them to POISON GAS!!!
We broke the story ... Flavor Flav's Chicken & Ribs was hit with eviction papers last month because the landlords claim the restaurant hasn't paid a penny in rent since the place opened back in December.
But Flav's people claim they have a damn good reason to stiff the landlords -- the place had a faulty heater that was leaking carbon monoxide into the restaurant ... endangering everyone inside the building.
Flav's partners filed a lawsuit against the landlord ... claiming they had a duty to fix the problem, but failed to do so ... causing FFC&R to temporarily close its doors.
The chicken joint has since re-opened ... and we're guessing the problem has been remedied because no one has since died (... to the best of our knowledge).
A lawyer for Flav's biz partners tells TMZ, the rent on the property IS currently being paid ... but into a court escrow account, where it will stay until all these messy legal matters are settled.
Team Flav is suing for more than $25k in lost business and other damages.