California Landlord + Tenant Law Attorney
California Habitability Violations Lawyer
Landlords are in a position of power over tenants. Unfortunately, some landlords abuse this power and refuse to provide tenants with basic necessities required under state and local laws.
What Are a Landlord’s Responsibilities in California?
A landlord’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the requirement to provide a habitable premises to all tenants, which must be safe for human occupation. There are no excuses. In Green v. Superior Court, (1974) 10 Cal.3d 616, the Court held that “a warranty of habitability is implied by law in residential leases in this state.” According to California Civil Code § 1941.1 if any of the following is missing or substandard in your apartment or home, you may be eligible for compensation:
- 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.
- Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair.
- A locking mail receptacle for each residential unit in a residential hotel, as required by Section 17958.3 of the Health and Safety Code. This subdivision shall become operative on July 1, 2008.
This is not an exhaustive list.
When Can a Rental Unit In California Be Declared Substandard?
Under Health and Safety Code § 17920.3, a rental unit may also be declared “substandard” if it contains inadequate “sanitation,” “structural hazard(s),” “nuisance(s),” “wiring” issue(s), “plumbing” issue(s), “faulty weather protection”, and any other issues that “endangers the life, limb, health, property, safety, or welfare of the public or the occupants” of the building.
Examples of “inadequate sanitation” as defined in Health and Safety Code § 17920.3 (a) are listed below:
- Lack of, or improper water closet, lavatory, or bathtub or shower in a dwelling unit.
- Lack of, or improper water closets, lavatories, and bathtubs or showers per number of guests in a hotel.
- Lack of, or improper kitchen sink.
- Lack of hot and cold running water to plumbing fixtures in a hotel.
- Lack of hot and cold running water to plumbing fixtures in a dwelling unit.
- Lack of adequate heating.
- Lack of, or improper operation of required ventilating equipment.
- Lack of minimum amounts of natural light and ventilation required by this code.
- Room and space dimensions are less than required by this code.
- Lack of required electrical lighting.
- Dampness of habitable rooms.
- Infestation of insects, vermin, or rodents…
- Visible mold growth…
- Lack of connection to required sewage disposal system.
- Lack of adequate garbage and rubbish storage and removal facilities…
What Do I Do Next?
If you have any of the issues listed above or any other problems inside your home, it is important that you take the following steps:
- STEP 1: Notify your landlord in writing of the issue(s).
- STEP 2: Take photographs of the substandard condition(s) or problem(s).
- STEP 3: Maintain a journal of all issues/problems that have been reported and/or have existed at your home during your tenancy.
- STEP 4: File a formal complaint with your local City or Department of Public Health.
- STEP 5: Contact LA Century Law regarding your claim.
Filing a Formal Complaint In California
In California, general complaints related to “public health,” such as issues with mold, rodents, insects, etc. can be made at the following link.
If your Landlord fails to cure or repair issues in your home within a reasonable amount of time or otherwise fails to respond to your complaints, you can (and should) file a complaint with your City. Each City will have a different platform to report issues. Complaints for the City of Los Angeles can be made at the following link:
Is There a Deadline To Make A Claim Against My Landlord In California?
Yes. All legal actions in California are subject to the “Statute of Limitations”. The statute of limitations is a deadline for a party or parties to bring their legal claim(s) against another. This means that if a lawsuit is not filed within the statute of limitations, it may be barred forever. Therefore, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as you believe you have been harmed.
In habitability cases, the statute of limitations can range between one and four years depending on the “causes of action” alleged in the Complaint. A “cause of action” is a legal theory of liability against another person or entity. There are numerous causes of actions that can be made against a Landlord. Those include but are not limited to:
- Breach of Written Agreement.
- Breach of the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.
- Violation of Civ. Code §§ 1941, 1941.1, and 1942.4 (Habitability Violations).
- Violation of Civ. Code §789.3 (Intentional Interference With Utility Services).
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.
- Private Nuisance.
- Unlawful Actions by Landlord to Influence Tenant to Vacate.
- Premises Liability.
- Constructive and Retaliatory Eviction.
- Unfair and Unlawful Competition.
Am I Entitled To Tenant Relocation In California?
If you reside or occupy a rent-controlled apartment or an apartment in California, you should generally be protected by Assembly Bill 1482, more commonly known as the Tenant Protection Act of 2019. Under these protections, you may be entitled to relocation assistance if a landlord or property owner attempts to displace you from your home.
Generally, a landlord cannot terminate your tenancy without “just cause” from a California rent-controlled apartment. This means that at no time during your tenancy can a landlord send you a ‘Termination Notice’ and require you to involuntarily vacate your California rent-controlled home. This of course is subject to certain exceptions.
For example, within the city of Los Angeles if a landlord desires to occupy a rent-controlled unit, they may engage in what is called an “Owner Occupancy Eviction”. However, the rules regarding this form of eviction are very strict and must be complied to completely. You will also be entitled to relocation in this situation.
If you have received a termination notice or other notice, it may be an illegal act by the Landlord. Call us now to speak to our tenant habitability attorneys now. We will provide you with a free consultation and determine if you are also entitled to tenant relocation assistance in the state of California.