If you are renting a property and something falls into disrepair, who, if anyone, is responsible? Are you, as a tenant, obliged to foot the bill? Or is it your landlord’s obligation to carry out repairs? We take a look at these questions, helping you to understand your legal position with regard to housing disrepair and landlord law in California.
Tenant and Landlord Act – Housing Disrepair
When you sign a tenancy agreement, you can expect the landlord or agent (with whom you have entered into a contract) to keep the property in good repair. This is a legal obligation, and is clearly outlined in the Tenant and Landlord Acts.
The law states that a landlord is responsible for the maintenance and repair of:-
- The entire environment of the dwelling (including drains, gutters and pipes);
- The implementation of basic facilities i.e gas, water, sanitation and electricity (including sinks, baths and toilets);
- The implementation for the availability of water and space heating (including pipes, boilers and radiators);
If a repair is necessary – either because a tenant has reported it or because it has been identified in an inspection – a landlord must see to it that work is carried out promptly. This is part and parcel of a landlord’s ‘duty of care’ towards his tenants, and must be respected at all times.
“A landlord is responsible for maintaining the property in accordance with California tenant law. All requests should be submitted in writing so that you can have proof of the request made to the landlord in the case that legal action is required. – Pintar Albiston – Las Vegas landlord tenant attorney“
Breach of Duty
Unfortunately, not all landlords respect their legal responsibilities. Indeed, many believe that they are not required to carry out any repairs whatsoever. However, this is simply not the case: a landlord has specific repairing obligations which are clearly set out in the law. If a landlord fails to respect this legislation, he/she will have breached their duty of care towards their tenant.
The only exception to the rule is if something falls into disrepair because a tenant has breached the tenancy agreement. In such cases, the landlord is responsible for the subsequent works or repairs.
What Action Can a Tenant Take?
If a landlord has breached their repairing obligations, a tenant is entitled to take legal action. The first step is to agree with the ‘Pre-action Protocol for Housing Disrepair’. This compels a tenant to send an early notification letter to their landlord, explaining the nature of the problem and detailing what repairs need to be carried out. This gives your landlord the opportunity to reply, either agreeing with your claim, or disputing their liability regarding the housing disrepair. If your landlord contests your claim, your case may proceed to the court.