SAN DIEGO, CA. – As a longtime property management company in San Diego, one of the most common questions that we’ve had from landlords over the years is do tenants have the right to withhold rent?
The answer to this question is “yes and no” – as most things, it depends on the situation.
Tenants are entitled to a property that meets their basic health, structural and safety standards. If the Landlord fails to maintain “habitable” living conditions, the Tenant has the right to withhold rent, among other legal remedies. But the issue in question must be one of habitability or the Tenant can’t withhold rent.
Examples of non-habitability are: a broken heater, mold, toilets not working, or a leaking roof.
In these cases, the tenant has the right do the following:
- Withhold rent until repairs are made.
- Pay for any or all repairs themselves then deduct the cost of those repairs from their rent. This is also called repair and deduct.
- Contact local building health inspectors or state officials to inform them about the poor condition of their rental property.
The Tenant may issue the Landlord a notice to cure, in which the Landlord has a set period of days to remedy the issue or the Tenant has the right to break the lease without penalty.
Tenants Have Rights to a Livable Premises
Review California statutes (Civil Code § 1941.1 and § 1941.3) which states landlords are legally required to offer their tenants what can be considered a habitable or livable premises. Every rental property in California must have the following:
- Effective weather protection and waterproofing for the roof, exterior walls, Windows, doors and any entry point into the rental property.
- Functioning heating, plumbing and electrical facilities.
- A sanitary building that’s also clean and free from garbage, rubbish, rodents, vermin and filth (this is intentionally vague, so make sure you have photos of your property at move-in)
- Deadbolt locks on the doors and lockable windows.
- No hazards from lead paint.
- No dangers to human life, mental health or offensive/of noxious behavior on the premises.
Tenants Do Have Responsibilities Too In California
Although tenants have the right to withhold rent from a landlord who fails to properly fix issues on their rental property, tenants in are required to hold up their fair share of maintenance and responsibilities which may include:
- Keeping the rental property clean and sanitary at all times.
- Disposing of garbage or rubbish from the premises.
- Properly using gas, electrical and plumbing on premises.
- Not destroying or willfully wrecking one or more parts of the rental property.
Get California Property Management
The law is not exact, it’s often ambiguous with cases law findings across the board. If you don’t have experience dealing with these types of situations, then maybe you should think of hiring someone who does.
Save time and money on property management by contacting the team of property management professionals at Goldenwest today by clicking here to contact us online, or calling us at (858) 792-3442.