The information provided on this site is not legal advice, does not constitute a lawyer referral service, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or will be formed by use of the site. She is the author or co-author of Every Landlord's Legal Guide, Every Landlord's Guide to Finding Great Tenants, Every Tenant's Legal Guide, Renters' Rights, Negotiate the Best Lease for Your Business, Leases & Rental Agreements, The California Landlord's Law Book: Rights and Responsibilities, and California Tenants' Rights. The judge figured that the deteriorated apartment would have rented for $150 less a month, and ordered the landlord to pay Judy $450 to make up for the three months she had lived with the defects. Taking the time to understand your options can help you protect yourself during your tenancy. California Tenants’ Rights also helps you with roommates who don’t pull their weight, disruptive neighbors, landlords who don’t know (or won’t follow) state laws, and local rent control ordinances. When the landlord still did nothing, Judy filed suit in small claims court, asking the judge to award her damages (money) representing the difference between her rent and the value of the deteriorated apartment. Yes. Nolo has books and online forms for tenants looking for a new place to live or to fix problems in a current living situation. Paying Rent. Illegal Eviction Procedures in California, California landlords must follow specific rules and procedures when evicting a tenant, California Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy. These clauses are binding in most cases and effectively nullify any prior promises, oral or written, unless you were able to get them included in the agreement. Millions have relied on California Tenants' Rights since 1971! If you withhold even a portion of the rent because of a minor repair problem, you risk eviction for nonpayment of rent. Nolo books and forms cover a wide range of issues--from what’s legally required (or prohibited) in leases, rental applications, and other forms, to landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities when it comes to repairs, tenant privacy, late rent, … A water leak from the roof stained and buckled several areas of the hardwood floors; the kitchen cabinets, which were apparently badly made, warped, and would not shut; the dishwasher became so noisy the neighbor banged on the wall when it was in use; the soap dish fell off the bathroom wall; and the white entryway rug started to fall apart. For example, sanding a surface for a seemingly innocuous paint job may actually create lead-based paint dust; the quick installation of a smoke alarm could involve disturbing an asbestos-filled ceiling. (Chapter 6 explains how to find and what to expect from these local agencies.) For instance, you might argue that the garbage disposal is a "plumbing facility or electrical equipment" that is covered under Civil Code Section 1941.1(a)(2) or (5), or "mechanical equipment" covered under Health and Safety Code Section 17920.3(f). Why Nolo? If the repair was a type described in Civil Code Section 1941.1, you should be able to successfully fight an eviction. Work at Nolo. By now you should have a pretty good idea as to whether your landlord is legally responsible for fixing the particular minor problem that is bedeviling you. Likewise, the fact that you may have a faucet that drops probably does not render the dwelling unfit, but the landlord is still legally required to fix the problem. The landlord won’t make needed repairs? California, Beat Your Ticket: Go to Court & Win, and The California Landlord’s Law Book: Evictions, and the coauthor of The Guardianship Book for California. That way, if the landlord claims that the job is not done right, the worst that can happen is that you may be fired but your tenancy should not be affected. If the dispute boils over, the landlord tries to evict the tenant. Fortunately, California Tenants’ Rights, the leading tenant guide for more than 45 years, provides all the information and key forms tenants need to: ... Nolo's Executive Editor, Janet Portman oversees editorial work on all Nolo books, articles, and websites. What If a Occupant Is Not Named in the Complaint? That being said, the specific rights granted to a tenant will largely depend on the state in which they live. The price of Nolo's Online California Corporation formation service varies depending on your needs. In small claims court, you can’t get an order from the judge directing your landlord to paint, fix the dishwasher, or repair the intercom. Make sure the agreement is fair. However, be sure you are on solid ground before asserting your rights. Work at Nolo. Landlords who are tired of maintenance and repair jobs may use the lease, rental agreement, or separate contract to give these responsibilities to a tenant. In addition, if your dispute ends up in small claims court, the demand letter can usually be introduced as evidence. And if the maintenance jobs are spelled out in a lease clause, the landlord also has the option of terminating the lease on the grounds that your poor performance constitutes a breach of the lease. Finally, it would really be great if you would give some thought to repainting the interior hallways. Check out Renter's Rights. Participation in mediation is totally voluntary, however, and if your landlord does not want to participate, the service will be of little use. Whether you’ll get any action out of the agency will depend on the seriousness of the violation, the workload of the agency, and its ability to enforce its compliance orders. Whether the tenant is renting a room, an apartment, a house, or a duplex, the landlord-tenant relationship is governed by federal, state, and local laws. If your letter has not convinced your landlord to fix this minor issue and you do not believe that further coaxing will work, it’s time to consider other options. Few, if any, minor repair problems warrant rent withholding because your tenancy is at risk when habitability issues are not substantial. Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court in California, by Ralph Warner (Nolo), has all the details you need to file a small claims court lawsuit. See Appendix A for information about rent control in your area, and contact the rent board about how to proceed. Use common sense—don’t go running to court for small things. The landlord has assumed the obligation to maintain a particular feature, such as a whirlpool bathtub, because the landlord has fixed or maintained it in the past. You may, however, be compensated in dollars for living in a rental unit with repair problems. These services try to get parties together to work on a mutually agreeable solution to a problem, and most of these services have experience with landlord/tenant issues. CDC Eviction Ban Declaration Form. May the Landlord Increase the Security Deposit? But if your dishwasher is broken, three faucets leak noisily, and the bathroom door won’t close, your chances of winning go way up. As stated in the previous chapter, many jurisdictions with rent control allow tenants to petition for a reduction in rent due to a reduction in the services provided. Be sure to bring evidence. Ralph Warner is founder and publisher of Nolo, and an expert on landlord/tenant law. See Chapter 10 for more information on environmental hazards. Your goal in small claims court is to convince the judge that these problems really make your rental unit worth less money. Month-to-Month Residential Rental Agreement, Proof of Service by First-Class Mail—Civil, Proof of Service by First-Class Mail—Civil (Persons Served), Information sheet on Waiver of Superior Court Fees and Costs, Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs, Information Sheet on Waiver of Court Fees and Costs, Order on Application for Waiver of Additional Court Fees and Costs, Blank Numbered Legal Paper With Superior Court heading, Points and Authorities in Support of Demurrer, Request to Inspect and for Production of Documents, Form Interrogatories -- Unlawful Detainer, Application and Declaration for Relief from Eviction, Application and Declaration for Stay of Eviction, Notice of Appeal and Notice to Prepare Clerk's Transcript, Claim of Right to Possession and Notice of Hearing, Legal Forms, Letters, and Checklists for California Tenants, Get Organized and Set Your Rental Priorities, Typical Provisions in Leases and Rental Agreement, How Landlords Must Handle Your Credit Information, Permissible Reasons for Rejecting Tenants, The Legal Obligations of Roommates to the Landlord, Your Responsibility for Rent if You Move Out and Your Roommate Stays, Victims of Harassment, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking,or Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse, What to Do If the Landlord Violates Rent Control Rules, How to Tell If a Landlord Is Discriminating, Disability and Requesting Reasonable Accommodations, Sexual Harassment by Landlords or Managers, What to Do About a Landlord’s ­Improper Entry, Your Repair and Maintenance Responsibilities, How to Get Action From Your Landlord: The Light Touch, What to Do If the Landlord Won’t Make Repairs, Getting the Landlord to Make Minor Repairs, Your Options If the Landlord Refuses to Make a Minor Repair, Improvements That May Become Part of the Property, Improving Your Rental Without Enriching Your Landlord, Duty to Disclose Presence of Environmental Hazards, The Landlord’s Basic Duty to Keep You Safe, Illegal Activity on the Property and Nearby, A Tenant's Death: Consequences for Cotenants and the Landlord's Duties, Effect of Sale of Premises on Security Deposits, Effect of Foreclosure on Security Deposits. After taking some time away from the law to raise her family, Janet joined Nolo as part of the team writing the company’s first national landlord-tenant book, Every Landlord’s Legal Guide. (People v. Woodard, 23 Cal.3d 329 (1979).) Winning in small claims court depends more on what you drag into court with you than on what you say. Work at Nolo. The California Landlord's Law Book: Rights and Responsibilities, and California Tenants' Rights. Ebook also available in docx and mobi. you’ve given the landlord plenty of time and notice to fix the problems. Like the first letter (see the sample above), your second letter should describe the problems and alert the landlord to the negative consequences (to the landlord, not just to you) that may follow if repairs aren’t made. By implication, this makes the landlord responsible for maintaining or repairing them. I’m concerned that a plate or dish towel might stop up the drain, leading to an overflow. Don’t perform repairs involving hazardous materials. If the feature substantially affected your decision to move in, then say so in the letter. When the Landlord Won’t Return Your Deposit, Rent Withholding as a Way to Get Deposits Back in Advance, Requiring Residential Hotel Tenants to Check Out, The Three-Day Notice Because of Nonpayment of Rent or Other Tenant Violation, The 30-, 60-, or 90-Day Notice to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy, Your Options After a Three-Day or 30-, 60-, or 90-Day Notice Is Served, Stopping an Eviction by Filing for Bankruptcy, Your Rights If Your Building is Foreclosed Upon. The only exception would be if you agreed in writing to take care of these items when you moved in. Janet has contributed commentary to major media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, Kiplinger’s, and The New York Times. I’ve spoken with the tenants in four of the other six units and they, too, would appreciate a return to your standards of old. The Nolo book California Tenants’ Rights includes detailed discussions of the same topics, plus forms you can send your landlord, including a notice to repair and a notice of rent withholding. $23.99. When it comes to legal responsibility for repairs, your own lease or rental agreement is often just as important (or more so) than building codes or state laws. Suppose your rental agreement doesn't mention a garbage disposal, and neither does any ad you saw before moving in. This is especially important if you plan to do considerable work for your landlord on a continuing basis, such as keeping hallways, elevators, or a laundry room clean, or maintaining the landscaping. Drag into court with you than on what you say you would give some thought to the. Lease rather than give you a three-day notice to pay for what the ’... Trade-Off is equitable might stop up the drain, leading to an overflow of. 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