California Renter’s Rights for Repairs

California Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Last Updated: February 19, 2023

Tenants in California have the legal right to repairs for issues that place the property in violation of state health and safety standards. To exercise this right, they must properly notify the landlord and in most cases allow 30 days repairs, unless there’s a provable need otherwise (like an emergency).

California Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs

California landlords are generally responsible for repairing any significant issues with health or safety on the rental property that weren’t caused by the renter’s lack of ordinary care. Specifically, landlords must maintain the following features:

  • Plumbing (includes toilet, bathtub / shower, bathroom sink, kitchen sink).
  • Wiring.
  • Hot / cold running water.
  • Heating.
  • Required ventilation.
  • Required lighting.
  • Garbage storage.
  • Weatherproofing (includes exterior doors / windows).
  • Exterior locks.
  • Smoke alarms / CO detectors.
  • Common areas.
  • Anything that could make the property damp or moldy.

If any of the above stops working properly, and the tenant isn’t at fault for the damage, the landlord is the one responsible for making the repairs necessary to fix it.

Read more

What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in California?

California tenants are responsible for repairing damage they cause deliberately or carelessly, in addition to damage caused through lack of cleanliness, or through any misuse of fixtures on the rental property.

Requesting Repairs in California

California tenants are allowed to request repairs both verbally and in writing, although written notice is always legally stronger. By default, the landlord has 30 days after notice to perform repairs.

How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in California?

California landlords have 30 days by default to make repairs after getting notice of an issue in need of maintenance. If the landlord or the renter want a different period of time to apply (for example, in an emergency), there has to be a documentable good reason.

Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in California?

California landlords cannot refuse to make repairs required by the law or lease. It doesn’t matter if the tenant is behind on rent or breaking terms of the rental agreement.

Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in California?

California landlords don’t have to pay for alternative accommodation while they repair. However, repairs requiring the tenant to leave the rental property will usually reduce or eliminate the tenant’s legal obligation to pay rent, so tenants may be eligible for a refund from the landlord.

Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in California

California tenants can get an injunction to force repairs if the landlord doesn’t fix an issue in the required time, or repair and deduct for more minor repairs. They can also withhold rent, or move out and cancel the rental agreement.

Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in California?

California tenants can withhold rent when a landlord’s actions affect basic habitability. However, rent money is usually still owed when it’s withheld, even if it’s not being paid directly to the landlord. Courts often require the tenant to pay rent into an escrow account while a case is pending.

Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in California?

California tenants can arrange for repairs and deduct from the rent, up to twice every twelve months, when the landlord hasn’t made repairs after reasonable notice (usually 30 days). The repairs must be legally required, and the maximum deduction allowed is one month’s rent.

Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in California?

California tenants can break their leases, when a landlord’s actions affect basic habitability. The tenant typically has to move out and then give notice about ending the rental agreement.

Can the Tenant Sue in California?

California tenants can sue when the landlord doesn’t make required repairs after reasonable notice. The tenants can get an order to force repairs or recover the cost of damages.

Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in California?

California tenants can report landlords for code violations that affect health or safety on a property. Tenants should usually report to the local inspections or code enforcement department. If an inspecting officer finds a violation, the tenant could cancel the rental agreement, or sue to force repairs.

Read more

Landlord Retaliation in California

California landlords can’t retaliate against tenants by denying access, raising rent, reducing services, or disclosing immigration status when rent is current. The following tenant actions get legal protection against retaliation:

  • Complaints about maintenance, health, or safety.
  • Participation in a tenant organization.
  • Exercising legal or contractual rights.
  • Winning a habitability case.

Read more