HOUSING HABITABILITY

 We represent a wide  variety of clients throughout Los Angeles County and surroundings areas  in all types of residential litigation matters, including but not  limited to landlord’s failure to fumigate leased apartments when  infested with bed bugs, cockroaches, rodents, peeling paint, faulty  plumbing  install heaters, remediate mold, sewage,, leaks, holes in  walls, security lapses, and electrical and plumbing issues etc.

    

LANDLORDS LIABILITY FOR INFESTED APARTMENTS AND BUILDINGS

Apartment building owners can be liable when they  rent out a property, which has bed bugs. The main issue with this type  of case is determining the source of the bed bugs. Apartment building  operators will ultimately argue that the source of the bed bugs did not  originate from the apartment building.

Landlords owe a duty to their tenants to ensure  that the property is suitable for human occupancy or habitation. This  “implied warranty of habitability” applies to all properties in  California.

When landlords fail to properly maintain or repair  their property they are in breach of this duty. This implied warranty  requires that certain conditions be provided on the property, which  generally cannot be waived. If you have been bitten by bed bugs in your  apartment contact our offices for a free consultation.


HOW TO GET YOUR LANDLORD TO MAKE REPAIRS

If a landlord refuses to respond to a tenant's  written request for repairs and maintenance, the tenant  has remedies  under California Law and most County and City Ordinances . The law  actually protects a tenant that asserts rights against a landlord. In  fact, Cal. Civil Code § 1942.5 creates extra protection for a tenant  from eviction for 180 days after a repair request.


File a Lawsuit Against The Owner

Depending on the severity of the repair issues, a  tenant may have claims against a landlord that can be litigated in  Superior Court. For major, ongoing violations, such as infestation of   bed bugs, cockroaches, no heat, mold, sewage and roof leaks, rodents,  holes in walls, security lapses, and electrical and plumbing issues, an  attorney may take a case on contingency. When a case is taken on  contingency, the client does not pay until money is recovered. Damages  in an affirmative lawsuit can include return of rent paid, payment for  emotional suffering, and damages for physical harm.

Under California law, tenants may have the following and more causes of action against a landlord:


Negligence and Negligence Per Se

The landlord may be liable for physical injuries,  including illness. If the landlord has violated a state or local  statute and the violation has caused injury, the landlord is presumed to  be liable under California law.. This means that a jury or judge must  presume landlord liability. The landlord can overcome this presumption  by showing that the landlord took steps to protect tenants beyond those  required by state and local law. A claim for negligence must be brought  two years from the date of injury. Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 335.1.


Breach of Contract – Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

Implied in every residential lease is a covenant  of quiet enjoyment, guaranteeing that tenants will be able to peacefully  enjoy their homes. Civil Code § 1927. Where a landlord has  substantially interfered with a tenant’s peaceful enjoyment of a unit by  failing to provide timely and proper  repairs, and the tenant is under  constant threat of eviction,  the tenant can sue for back rent.


Breach of Warranty of Habitability

Implied in every residential lease is a warranty  of habitability.. California Civil Code § 1941.1 provides the minimum  requirements for a habitable residential unit: a) effective  waterproofing; (b) unbroken windows and doors; © working plumbing and  gas facilities; © hot and cold running water; (d) proper sewage system;  (e) heat; (f) working electrical lighting and wiring; (g)clean grounds;  (h)no rodents and vermin; (I) an adequate number of garbage cans;  (j)floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair; and (k) a  locking mail box.


To prove a claim for breach of warranty of  habitability, a tenant must show: (1) an uninhabitable condition; (2)  actual knowledge by landlord or constructive knowledge; and (3) damages.  Stoiber v. Honeychuck, 101 Cal. App. 3d 903, 918-19 (1980).  Constructive knowledge means that a landlord should have known or could  have known about the issue with reasonable inspection.


Damages for breach of warranty of habitability  include return of rent paid and attorney fees. The statute of  limitations for breach of warranty of habitability is two years for an  oral lease and four years for a written lease. Cal. Code Civ. Proc. §§  339 and 337. This means that a tenant can only claim a return on rent  for two years back on an oral and four years back on a written lease.


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