Explanation of Tenant Rights in California
Tenants must navigate a complicated set of rules and responsibilities in the state of California. Not only are there state guidelines that must be followed, but there are also specific city guidelines that govern rental properties as well. In general, however, tenants are entitled to the following rights but it is also important to read your lease carefully to determine what steps you can take.
1. Landlords Must Create Habitable Conditions.
Certain home conditions, such as mold or the presence of pests, are obvious items that must be cared for. Something as simple as a public entry hallway light that has burnt out may also create inhabitable conditions. In general, a rental unit should have usable appliances, sufficient trash receptacles for common areas, and working security locks.
2. Tenants Can Move Out Right Away.
If there are uninhabitable rental conditions, then it is possible to move out of the property at any time. Under Civil Code 1942, tenants don't have to notify their landlord about the conditions or request that they be fixed. The defects in the property don't have to be serious either for an immediate move out to occur. With that being said, landlords do tend to take immediate moves to court and a judge may find in favor of the landlord, so it is best to notify someone about the conditions and give them the chance to fix it.
3. Habitability Items Can Be Fixed By The Tenant.
Certain items can be repaired immediately by the tenant and the cost deducted from the monthly rent that is owed. They must relate to the living conditions, however, so certain repairs like a torn carpet are not covered. Tenants are allowed to charge for the work of the repair personnel, but cannot add charges to compensate themselves in any way.
4. Illegal Units Have No Right To Rent.
Tenants that discover they are living in an illegal rental unit, such as a garage that has been converted into a rental, then California laws block landlords from legally requesting any rent at all. In these conditions, the tenant can move out without penalty. Knowing tenant's rights in California can help landlords and tenants better manage the rental relationship. As a final step, making sure that every communication occurs in writing can help to eliminate any questions of who said what.
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