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Habitability Defects
Understanding Warranty of Habitability Issues

Understanding Warranty of Habitability Issues

Understanding Warranty of Habitability Issues


Understanding Warranty of Habitability Issues

The implied warranty of habitability is a traditional concept that states landlords must keep their properties in a safe and livable condition. This warranty exists in every lease, whether written or oral, and cannot be waived. As such, tenants have certain rights to demand repairs and utility access regardless of individual lease provisions.

The dedicated San Francisco tenant rights lawyers at Wolford Wayne LLP have spent years helping Bay Area renters understand their legal right to safe and healthy living conditions under both the warranty of habitability and California housing statutes. If your rental unit has become unlivable, confidentially contact our dedicated housing advocates today by calling (415) 649-6203 or connecting with us online.

Overview of California Habitability Laws & Common Landlord Violations

While the warranty of habitability still exists in California, specific housing regulations address most modern habitability issues. Cal. Civil Code § 1941.1 sets forth the following general conditions rendering rental properties uninhabitable:

  • Lack of substantial waterproofing, including functional walls, roofs, doors, and windows
  • Broken/lack of hot and cold water supply with appliances controlled by the tenant
  • Lack of access to potable water connected to sewage
  • Broken plumbing
  • No safe heat source
  • No access to working electrical lighting
  • Broken floors, stairwells, or railings
  • Lack of clean and usable garbage receptacles
  • Vermin infestations
  • Unclean or unsanitary areas of the building or common ground

Additionally, San Francisco landlords must abide by health and safety protocols governing mold remediation, lead paint, asbestos, and hazardous building materials. California law will consider the premises uninhabitable for substantial violations of the above provisions. Landlords cannot generally request tenants waive these rights, refuse to make timely repairs, pass essential repair costs to tenants via contract, or otherwise force tenants to make or pay for said repairs.

Remedies for San Francisco Tenants Living in Uninhabitable Rentals

Renters must first notify the landlord of the dilapidated condition and give them time to make necessary repairs. The amount of time afforded to the landlord depends on the damage. For example, landlords may have a few months to fix heaters that broke during the summer but only a few hours to address sewage leaks. If a landlord refuses or fails to address a serious issue in a reasonable time frame, then tenants have three main options: (1) leave the apartment and pursue constructive wrongful eviction protections; (2) bring an action at the Rent Board for a decrease in services; or (3) file a complaint with the Department of Building Inspection. However, tenants should never trigger these remedies without speaking with a dedicated warranty of habitability lawyer near them.

Discuss California’s Warranty of Habitability with the Tenant Rights Attorneys at Wolford Wayne LLP

Our dedicated San Francisco habitability lawyers often encounter landlords who misunderstand their repair and maintenance responsibilities. They often mistakenly believe they can pass these responsibilities to tenants, waive these rights in writing, or otherwise force tenants to make these repairs. Many issues also arise when landlords agree to make the repairs but fail to do so in a timely manner. Bay Area tenants forced to live in uninhabitable conditions should discuss their legal options with the experienced California habitability lawyers at Wolford Wayne LLP immediately by calling (415) 649-6203 or contacting us online.

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For more information or to discuss your legal situation, call us today at (415) 649-6203 for a phone consultation or submit an inquiry below. Please note our firm can only assist tenants residing in San Francisco, Oakland & Berkeley.

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