if a heating and air conditioning unit does not work and there is live wires showing in the home and screws coming up in a unfinished tile flooring

Asked by Atwater, Sacramento, CA Sun Jun 20, 2010

and a ten foot pool in the back yard is empty and is dangerous does the tenant have the right to with hold the rent until the unit is fixed?

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John Juarez, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sun Jun 20, 2010
Are you the tenant or are you the landlord? If you are the tenant, I wonder if these conditions existed when you began your tenancy? If so, why did you accept the house in that condition? If not, did you cause these problems? If you are the landlord, you should fix these unnacceptable conditions.
1 vote
Sue Archer R…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Wed Oct 2, 2013
Sorry, but we are not qualified to give legal advice. You have tenant rights, these are tempered as to whether you caused the problem or they just happened as part of the property condition.

In either case, California offers free legal advice. If you go down to the county courthouse there is a legal center that can help answer these questions for you. If the home is 'red tagged' as being uninhabitable, and not by your actions, you may be eligible for the property owner to pay for your housing somewhere else until the home is corrected. ....but all of that is dependent on lots of factors.

It's best to talk to an attorney. If you don't want to go down to the county courthouse, sign up for Legal Shield. Those are the two most affordable legal options that you have.
0 votes
Jay Taylor, , Santa Ana, CA
Fri Sep 6, 2013
Yes the tenant has the full right to ask his owner to get everything fixed and should not pay the rent until every thing is fixed.
0 votes
Kamal Randha…, Agent, El Sobrante, CA
Sat Jun 26, 2010
Hello Atwater

Simple answer, If the property poses danger is uninhabitable...YES, you do have the right to withhold rent.

Kamal Randhawa
0 votes
James Gordon…, Agent, Hamilton, OH
Mon Jun 21, 2010
Atwater why did you move in a place in that condition? Screws sticking up out of the floor, wires exposed, a ten foot deep pool empty, not to mention the HVAC not working. Was it in that condition when you moved in or did it happen on your watch?
0 votes
Sue Archer R…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Sun Jun 20, 2010
You say you're a renter. You do not specify if these conditions were active at the time that you moved in to the property or are a recent occurrence. You also don't specify whether you caused any of these conditions. If they were pre-existing, I would suggest that in the future, you not accept occupancy on a home with these substandard issues. But at this point you have various remedies. And the first is to correct the condition, which is more important than if the rent is paid.

At each county courthouse there are legal aid offices to assist tenants for legal issues, or you can call an attorney. California is very sensitive to tenant issues. You can call and have the home deemed substandard which will red tag the property, causing fines to the landlord and requiring them to provide you alternative housing...provided you are paying rent. There are so many permutations to what you are describing.

If the pool is empty, why don't you fill it? If there are live wires, why not call an electrician to fix them and charge the landlord or deduct it from rent? We have not had many hot days recently but ithe home is required to provide heating ...I'm not sure about AC. Legal aid can better advise you, but I'd suggest you take some responsibility for fixing these items or moving out. Why would you stay in a home like this?
Web Reference:  http://www.suearcher.com
0 votes
Trena Daigna…, Agent, Fayetteville, NC
Sun Jun 20, 2010
Whoa! Talk about your fixer-upper. Screws in tile flooring? Tile is not "normally" adhered to subfloor with screws. Was the pool drained when you leased this property? Although you may not have noticed an inoperative a/c unit, the other issues should have been addressed during a walk through at the time you signed your lease agreement. Since you are renting you need to know the tenant and landlord laws governing such issues. I suggest you call a legal advisor or your local Association of Realtors for more information. In NC a tenant is not permitted to withhold rent for repairs. Laws vary by state. This link may help; http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/index.shtml
I would suggest you cut the power to the live wires until this is safety issue is corrected. Sounds very dangerous. Good luck.
0 votes
Jim Walker, Agent, Carmichael, CA
Sun Jun 20, 2010
I liked Eric's answer, loved John Juarez's answer to this question . I like Ron's suggestion to call the city.

Landlords have a responsibility to provide homes that are safe to live in. Tenants have an obligation to not abuse or destroy the landlords property while using it.
0 votes
Eric J Soder…, , Pleasanton, CA
Sun Jun 20, 2010
The short answer is yes. There are several course of action that a tenant can take in a situation where the rental is considered "uninhabitable".

One "the repair and deduct remedy" where rent is used to correct problems that are less than or equal to one months rent.

Another is to the "abandonment remedy". This may be used if the repairs were more than one month’s rent. Here the tenant can legally vacate the property.

Yet another is the "rent withholding remedy". This is what you are describing. Here a tenant simply withholds rent until repairs are made.

There are conditions for what is considered uninhabitable and each remedy has its own difficulties and conditions to meet. Exposed wiring is specifically called out in the California Tenants Book.

I attached a shortcut to this publication below. I suggest any tenant or landlord to read and understand this information. I of course will advice you to speaking with a lawyer before taking action. That’s what we do on this forum!

Best Regards,

Eric Soderlund
0 votes
Ron Rovtar, Agent, Boulder, CO
Sun Jun 20, 2010
Hi Atwater:

Laws about such conditions do vary from state to state. I would check with a lawyer to get up-to-date info about the rules in California. I also would look in the Yellow Pages for local renter's rights groups that can help. A third option would be to go to the city to make sure the appropriate local office is aware of the situation.

0 votes
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