Under California law, homeowners must adhere to housing standards and must refrain from using self-help. There are housing regulations that, if violated, will deem the property unsustainable, meaning it cannot be rented.
Property is considered unsustainable if it is substantially lacking in the following:
(1) Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof, walls, windows and doors;
(2) gas installations kept in good working order;
(3) a water supply capable of producing hot and cold running water, and connected to a sewage disposal system;
(4) heating installations kept in good working order;
(5) Electric lighting, kept in good working order;
(6) the building, grounds, fixtures, and all areas under the control of the owner from the moment of commencement of the lease or rental agreement must be kept clean, sanitary, free from any accumulation of debris, dirt, garbage , garbage, rodents and vermin;
(7) an adequate number of appropriate trash and waste receptacles, in clean and in good repair at the time of commencement of the lease or rental agreement, and the landlord is responsible for the clean condition and good repair of receptacles under his or her control;
(8) floors, stairs maintained in good condition.
The homeowner must also ensure compliance with local ordinances and any remodeling must comply with existing building codes.
A homeowner cannot legally demand rent, collect rent, issue a rent increase notice, or issue a three-day notice to pay rent or resign, if the property is unsustainable and:
(1) A public official or employee who is responsible for the enforcement of any housing law, after inspecting the premises, has notified the owner or the owner’s agent in writing of their obligations to reduce nuisance or repair substandard conditions;
(2) The conditions have existed and have not been removed 35 days after notification from a public official was received and the delay is not for good cause;
(3) and the conditions were not caused by an act of the tenant or by the inaction of the tenant.
A landlord who demands rent, collects rent, or issues a rent increase notice, or issues a three-day notice to pay or resign and all four conditions are present, then the landlord is liable to the tenant for actual damages, plus special damages of any kind. less than $ 100 and not more than $ 5,000.00. The winning party is also entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.
This does not mean that the tenant can cause these conditions and it does not mean that
the landlord is liable if the tenant chooses to live in poor condition. The landlord has no obligation to repair a deterioration if the tenant is in substantial violation of the following affirmative obligations:
(1) The tenant is obliged to keep the part of the property that he occupies and uses clean and hygienic according to the conditions of the property;
(2) The tenant is required to properly dispose of all garbage, trash, and other wastes for his dwelling unit, in a clean and sanitary manner;
(3) The tenant is obliged to refrain from giving permission to any person on the premises to intentionally destroy, deface, damage, miss or remove any part of the structure and the tenant must also refrain from doing such things;
(4) The tenant is obliged to occupy the premises as his domicile, using portions to live, sleep, cook or eat only as the dwelling was designed and intended to be used.
These are the most basic requirements, but the list of obligations and responsibilities is much broader and imposes even more responsibilities on the owner. What is shocking is that a landlord can legally harass a tenant, even when the landlord does not have a viable claim and is in violation of the above. A landlord can initiate eviction proceedings and even evict a tenant, even if the landlord violates the housing violations listed above. If the tenant can get an attorney to represent them, the landlord can litigate the lawsuit and then, on the day of the trial, simply dismiss the lawsuit.
If the landlord alleges a violation of the lease as the basis for the claim, the landlord can dismiss the claim at the last minute and incur no attorney’s fees or costs, because if there are provisions for attorneys’ fees in the lease, there is no a winner. when the landlord voluntarily dismisses the case. It’s a loophole that essentially encourages frivolous lawsuits. Under California law, the landlord could file a frivolous lawsuit multiple times and dismiss it just before trial after the tenant has exhausted thousands of people defending the lawsuit. This is how a landlord can legally harass a tenant.
It is not correct, it is not fair, and it is certainly not fair, but it is the result that was created by the State Legislature.