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.
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:
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.
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