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    Practice Area

    Habitability

    Aggressive tactics seeking your results through habitability

    A rental unit must be fit to live in; that is, it must be habitable. In legal terms, “habitable” means that the rental unit is fit for occupation by human beings and that it substantially complies with state and local building and health codes that materially affect tenants’ health and safety

    California law makes landlords and tenants each responsible for certain kinds of repairs, although landlords (also known as slumlords) ultimately are legally responsible for assuring that their rental units are habitable.

    The landlord has this duty to repair because of a California Supreme Court case, called Green v. Superior Court, which held that all residential leases and rental agreements contain an implied warranty of habitability. Under the “implied warranty of habitability,” the landlord is legally responsible for repairing conditions that seriously affect the rental unit’s habitability. That is, the landlord must repair substantial defects in the rental unit and substantial failures to comply with state and local building and health codes.

    A dwelling also may be considered uninhabitable (unlivable) if it substantially lacks any of the following:

    • Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors.

    • Plumbing facilities in good working order, including hot and cold running water, connected to a sewage disposal system.

    • Gas facilities in good working order.

    • Heating facilities in good working order.

    • An electric system, including lighting, wiring, and equipment, in good working order.

    • Clean and sanitary buildings, grounds, and appurtenances (for example, a garden or a detached garage), free from debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.

    • Adequate trash receptacles in good repair.

    • Floors, stairways, and railings in good repair.
    • Clean and sanitary units free from mold or black mold, mushrooms, water remediation, and water Intrusion

    In addition to these requirements, each rental must have all of the following:

    • A working toilet, wash basin, and bathtub or shower. The toilet and bathtub or shower must be in a room which is ventilated and allows privacy.

    • A kitchen with a sink that cannot be made of an absorbent material such as wood.

    • Natural lighting in every room through windows or skylights. Windows in each room must be able to open at least halfway for ventilation, unless a fan provides mechanical ventilation.

    • Safe fire or emergency exits leading to a street or hallway. Stairs, hallways, and exits must be kept litter-free. Storage areas, garages, and basements must be kept free of combustible materials.

    • Operable dead bolt locks on the main entry doors of rental units, and operable locking or security devices on windows.

    • Working smoke detectors in all units of multi-unit buildings, such as duplexes and apartment complexes. Apartment complexes also must have smoke detectors in common stairwells.

    • A locking mail box for each unit. The mail box must be consistent with the United States Postal Service standards for apartment housing mail boxes.

    • Ground fault circuit interrupters for swimming pools and anti-suction protections for wading pools in apartment complexes and other residential settings (but not single family residences).

    As experienced landlord tenant lawyers, we will navigate you through your tenancy and ensure your rights are not violated.

    Steps to take for Habitability issue:

    • Provide notice to the landlord of the exact issues that need to take place. Make sure this is in writing (email, letter or text message) so that there is a time and date and no dispute that you told the Landlord your concerns.
    • Take pictures and videos of the concerns. Everything should be documented so that you can present the evidence if a lawsuit needs to be filed.
    • Provide additional notice, after waiting 1.5 weeks, if the landlord did not receive or disregards the first one. This shows consistency and the seriousness of the issue.
    • Contact the health department. Having the government involved will put greater pressure and will generate an inspection report.
    • If applicable, contact a mold inspector. Mold inspections record the amount of mold present in the unit/apartment.

    Contact our office to help navigate you through the process.

    If you are having any or all of the problems above as a tenant, make sure to contact our office for a case review.

    You don’t pay us until your case is over. It’s that simple. To get started with our firm, we do not require retainers, starting fees, or hourly rates. A portion of your settlement pays for our help. If we don’t “win” your case, you don’t pay our attorney’s fees.