Habitability & Failure to Repair
California Law provides minimum standards requiring landlords to maintain livable condition for tenants. The general standards require that landlords maintain the roofs, windows, screens, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, in good repair and reasonable working conditions. If a landlord fails to repair and or maintain the premises in good repair, then tenants may be able to seek claims related to habitability standards, including breach of warranty of habitability,
The “implied warranty of habitability” is a legal rule that requires landlords to maintain their rental units in a condition fit for human beings to live in. The implied warranty of habitability is implicit in all residential rental agreements and cannot be waived by either the landlord or the tenant.
To recover under this theory, Tenants must establish that at least one of the following were substantially lacking:
- Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors.
- Plumbing or gas facilities that conformed to applicable law in effect at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.
- A water supply approved under applicable law that is under the control of the tenant, capable of producing hot and cold running water, or a system that is under the control of the landlord, that produces hot and cold running water, furnished to appropriate fixtures, and connected to a sewage disposal system approved under applicable law.
- Heating facilities that conformed with applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.
- Electrical lighting, with wiring and electrical equipment that conformed with applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.
- Building, grounds, and appurtenances at the time of the commencement of the lease or rental agreement, and all areas under control of the landlord, kept in every part clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.
- An adequate number of appropriate receptacles for garbage and rubbish, in clean condition and good repair at the time of the commencement of the lease or rental agreement, with the landlord providing appropriate serviceable receptacles thereafter and being responsible for the clean condition and good repair of the receptacles under his or her control. F
- Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair.
Tenants can enforce a landlord’s obligations by filing a civil suit for damages. If a jury finds that the habitability standards were substantially breached, then tenants are entitled to reduced rent for breach of habitability. Determining this value is calculated by taking the amount of monthly rent required under the lease and reducing it by the dollar amount or percentage that a jury considers reflects the uninhabitable conditions. This reduction only applies for the period of time that the conditions were present.
Tenants may be entitled to additional general damages and special damages related to a landlord’s failure to repair. But each tenant’s damages are fact-specific.
- San Francisco Habitability Lawyer
- Oakland Habitability Lawyer
- Berkeley Habitability Lawyer
- Fremont Habitability Lawyer
Example of Habitability Cases
Various factors can lead to uninhabitable conditions, including:
- Rodent infestation
- Rat infestation
- Mice infestation
- Water leaks
- Fire hazards
- Roof leaks