Habitability claims involve the safety and living conditions of a building. These claims are related to current living conditions and do not require a specific instance of bodily injury or property damage. The act of leasing an uninhabitable space is illegal and is defined by California Civil Code Section 1941, which states that when a landlord rents property as a place of residence, the property must by law be in a habitable condition.
What are the Landlord’s obligations prior to a tenant’s move-in date?
In terms of residential leases, in order for a landlord to be allowed to place rental units on the market, the landlord must first ensure that all of the following conditions which make the building ‘fit for human occupancy’ are met: [Civil Code Secs. 1929, 1941]
- Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior wall
- Well-maintained plumbing and gas facilities compliant with law in effect at the time of installation
- Water supply compliant with applicable law that is capable of producing hot and cold running water
- Well-maintained heating facilities compliant with applicable law at the time of installation
- Well-maintained electrical lighting compliant with applicable law at the time of installation
- Building, grounds, and appurtenances kept sanitary and free from debris and vermin at the time of rent or lease
- Sufficient number of receptacles for garbage
- Well-maintained floors, stairways, and railings
- Locks conforming to code [CA Civil Code Sec. 1941.3]
- Dead bolt lock on each main swinging entry door
- Window security or locking devices for windows capable of being opened.
How does a Landlord violate the implied warranty of habitability?
In California, every residential lease entitles tenants to a safe and habitable residence through the implied warranty of habitability. Every tenant is entitled to the following:
- Roof that keeps the weather out
- Regular access to hot/cold water
- Heating facilities maintained in good working order
- Sturdy floors and walls
- Absence of significant danger from toxins such as lead, asbestos, and mold
- Absence of vermin or insects, such as rats, mice and cockroaches
- Electrical lighting with wiring and electrical equipment maintained in good working order
- All plumbing and gas facilities must be maintained in good working order
- This means there should be no water leaks, gas leaks, sink and toilet backups, or sewage backups
When a California landlord refuses to provide these basic requirements or fails to make repairs when necessary, the implied warranty of habitability has been breached. A tenant may have the right to sue the landlord in these situations.
If your landlord has not provided you with any of the above listed conditions, please contact one of our experienced attorneys today!