HABITABILITY VIOLATIONS

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.

 

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.

(1) Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors.

(2) Plumbing or gas facilities that conformed to applicable law in effect at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.

(3) 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.

(4) Heating facilities that conformed with applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order

(5) Electrical lighting, with wiring and electrical equipment that conformed with applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.

(6) 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.

(7) 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.

(8) Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair.

(9) 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. 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 whether 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:

(1) Lack of, or improper water closet, lavatory, or bathtub or shower in a dwelling unit.

(2) Lack of, or improper water closets, lavatories, and bathtubs or showers per number of guests in a hotel.

(3) Lack of, or improper kitchen sink.

(4) Lack of hot and cold running water to plumbing fixtures in a hotel.

(5) Lack of hot and cold running water to plumbing fixtures in a dwelling unit.

(6) Lack of adequate heating.

(7) Lack of, or improper operation of required ventilating equipment.

(8) Lack of minimum amounts of natural light and ventilation required by this code.

(9) Room and space dimensions less than required by this code.

(10) Lack of required electrical lighting.

(11) Dampness of habitable rooms.

(12) Infestation of insects, vermin, or rodents…

(13) Visible mold growth…

(15) Lack of connection to required sewage disposal system.

(16) 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.

FILE A FORMAL COMPLAINT

If your Landlord fails to cure or repair issues in your home within a reasonable amount of time or otherwise fails respond to your complaints, you can (and should) file a complaint with the 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:

 

In California, general complaints related to “public health,” such as  issues with mold, rodents, insects, etc. can be made at the following link: 

IS THERE A DEADLINE TO MAKE A CLAIM AGAINST MY LANDLORD?

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.

Trespass.

Unlawful Actions by Landlord to Influence Tenant to Vacate.

Negligence

Premises Liability.

Constructive and Retaliatory Eviction.

Unfair and Unlawful Competition

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