Habitability refers to a real property’s fitness for human occupancy. California law holds landlords responsible for making sure that a rented property is maintained to a certain standard. If the landlord fails to do so, he faces fines and may have difficulty evicting a tenant. An Orange County eviction attorney can help you if a question of habitability arises in a rental property you own.
Warranty of Habitability
California Civil Code 1941, 1941.1 defines habitability standards in rental housing. As a landlord, you are weighted with a warranty of habitability, which means that you are legally required to maintain the property to a level that is safe and sanitary. Tenants also have a responsibility in keeping the property clean, but the acid test is whether the issue at hand is something a tenant would normally have control over. For instance, if filthy dishes are piled through the house, this is an unsanitary condition caused by the tenant. As an Orange County eviction attorney will tell you, however, you may still need to fix any resultant problems, such as the presence of rats.
Some conditions which would be deemed to cause a rental property to be considered uninhabitable are:
- Leaking roof
- Lack of operable smoke detectors
- Black mold
- Presence of rodents, roaches, etc.
- Non-working toilet, shower, or sinks
- Broken plumbing
- Inoperable heating
- Lack of hot water
- Unsanitary conditions
- Lack of gas supply
- Electrical problems
- Doors and windows that will not lock
- Broken stairs
Note that the above are but a few of the many conditions that landlords are required to maintain.
Habitability and Eviction
A tenant can use habitability issues as a defense against being evicted. Once the tenant files with the court that the rental is uninhabitable the landlord will have little ability to remove him through eviction.
An Orange County Eviction Law Firm Can Help
If you are a landlord/owner of rental property, it is important that you work with an Orange County eviction attorney should an issue arise about habitability. Call Schiff & Shelton, Attorneys at Law, today at (949) 417-2211.