California has specific rules regarding tenants’ rights to a safe and habitable rental property to use for their quiet enjoyment.
Tenant rights include specific rules that govern landlord and tenant conduct as well as remedies available to each when one party is in breach of the lease agreement. In addition to remedies for dispute and conduct imposed on both the tenant and the landlord, there are two inalienable implied “covenants” that define all rental agreements. These rights cannot be waived even by a lease.
The following outlines pertinent remedies available to tenants when their landlord does not hold up their end of the bargain.
The covenant of quiet enjoyment grants all tenants the right to peacefully enjoy their rental unit without disturbance, harassment, or security concerns and it further entitles them to the right of use. In cases where a landlord must access the premises, the landlord must give the tenant fair warning unless there is a serious emergency.
However, a landlord may remove a tenant from the premises (eviction) if that tenant is posing a security risk, creating a noise disturbance, or otherwise interfering with other tenants’ quiet enjoyment.
The implied warranty of habitability entitles all tenants to a premise that has functioning plumbing, running water, heat, and electricity. In addition, the dwelling unit should be free of pests, mold, lead paint and be sanitary. The properties should be secured against outside disturbances and there should be locks on the doors and no way to easily access the premises without a key.
Additionally, the tenant is expected to keep the interior of the apartment clean and free of garbage that would draw pests. Landlords must provide garbage disposal units for tenants to dispose of garbage.
In cases in which the tenant fails to uphold his or her end of the bargain, the landlord has one remedy — eviction. In cases in which the landlord fails to uphold his or her end of the bargain, the tenant may have several remedies, such as:
Under California law, the landlord has 30 days to repair a reported problem, or less if the problem requires urgent attention. Depending on where you live, the rules for withholding rent differ. You may not be able to withhold the entire amount of rent and in some cases, you will be required to pay the portion withheld to a city escrow account that the landlord will receive upon remedying the situation.
Under some circumstances, landlords in rent-controlled markets can offer tenants a buyout – a settlement that requires them to leave their apartment and give up any future rights regarding the unit. Buyouts are only allowable in under specific conditions, and tenants have the right to negotiate or refuse their settlement amount. A well-crafted and fair settlement can be beneficial for both parties. But unfortunately, some buyout offers are little more than an attempt to raise the rent by going around local restrictions designed to protect tenants. In other cases, tenants who are able or willing to move accept a buyout offer that seems like a large sum at the time, when in reality the value of the unit they are giving up, and the additional profits the landlord will make, should have resulted in far more compensation than they walked away with. The number of years the tenant has lived in the apartment, the age of the tenant and other factors can lead to a higher buyout.
Receiving a buyout offer from your landlord can be intimidating, but as a tenant, you have options for how to respond. The best course of action will depend on many factors, including your ability to find a new home, the amount of the settlement, and the purpose for the buyout, among others. The knowledgeable tenants’ rights attorneys at Bogaards Law understand the complex San Francisco housing market and its regulations, and they can provide customized legal guidance for renters who are considering a buyout.
In addition to the laws outlined above, a landlord may not retaliate against you for filing a good-faith complaint or requesting repairs. If you are dealing with a landlord who does not comply with California law, Bogaards Law may be able to help. Contact our office today to discuss your case.
Ms. Bogaards never backs down from a challenge, and her record shows it.
Wrongful death of the 20-year-old daughter of Renee and Israel Morales in the San Bruno PG&E gas pipeline explosion, with co-counsel John Feder. We were the second case to go to mediation resulting in one of the highest settlements in history.
Motorcyclist gets cut off by left-turning van in Capitola. Suffers below-knee amputation. Within one month of signing on with Bogaards Law, motorcyclist received a $250,000 advance from the defendant’s insurance company.
Pedro Avila was walking in a marked crosswalk, when a car took a left turn in Potrero Hill, and hit him. He suffered a broken right leg. The settlement included the $100,000 policy limits and $100,000 cash out of pocket from the motorist.
Speeding on a rented motorcycle after the Gay Pride Parade, plaintiff was hit by a Jeep making a left on Mission Street in San Francisco. Both sides’ accident reconstruction experts agreed that if plaintiff had been going the speed limit, the accident could have been avoided. Plaintiff suffered multiple pelvic fractures and underwent three surgeries. Her medical specials were $185,000. She had no wage loss claim as a Lt. Firefighter.
2019 – A petite 84 y.o.woman crossed in the middle of the street in dark clothing to go to the grocery store at night. She was hit by a car and died instantly.
Pedestrian gets hit by commuter bus making a right turn. Suffers a Lisfranc ankle injury with surgery. Medical bills were under $50,000. No wage loss.
Partial finger amputation of 8-year-old boy with comparative fault.
Customer trips and falls in parking garage. Suffers trimalleolar ankle fracture with surgery. Medical specials are $37,500. No wage loss.
Woman falls leaving a doctor’s office in SF. Suffers a complex ankle fracture. Liability is hotly contested. No wage loss.
Employee in a tech start-up makes a whistleblower claim regarding misuse of Facebook manager.
Homeowner slips on unsecured tarp in her foyer after coming downstairs and sues her general contractor doing her kitchen remodel. Homeowner suffers a severe elbow injury with surgery.
Wrist fracture arising out of pedestrian/auto accident, no surgery.
Plaintiff slipped and fell on nacho cheese on the floor at a U.S.F. basketball game, injuring his knee and resulting in arthroscopic surgery.
2014 – Mr. Dempsey was on his bicycle when he was hit by a car leaving the golf club. Liability was hotly contested. He suffered a broken right hand and cervical fractures.
Plaintiff was an 85-year-old man attending a weekly Rotary meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel in Livermore. He slipped on wet tiles and broke his femur in four places. Unfortunately, due to Alzheimer’s and life-threatening health issues, the plaintiff was unable to appear for his deposition or litigation past mediation.
Carbon monoxide poisoning case where clients, living in a ranch home in west Marin County, had only one day of exposure and no residual symptoms.
Wrongful death of 94 year old petite grandmother who ran out into traffic in the middle of the block between parked cars against a red light. Our accident reconstruction expert found no liability- zero-against the driver who hit her.
2016 – Two sisters were exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty wall heater in a hotel that didn’t have a carbon monoxide detector. They needed 28 hours of treatment, including oxygen. Medical bills were less than $10,000.
Cyclist gets doored by rideshare car. Bruising and scarring near eye and hand.
2017 – An 86 y.o. lovely woman got on the MUNI bus, and the driver took off before she was seated. She fell and suffered a low back injury. She has a significant past medical history. Her medical bill was a mere $6,000.
Race car professional suffered neuropathic leg pain when race car driver backed up into him, while standing at metal table in hangar. Liability was hotely contested.
2016 – Ms. Guttman had a head-on collision, and suffered a sprained right ankle with surgery.
Court trial in Marin County for breach of plaintiff’s employment contract as an office manager. Plaintiff had both a personal and work relationship with employer, a medical doctor.
Female student was sexually abused by a male student at a local private middle school. The male student had abused other students in the past.
Disputed sexual molestation of high school male student by female teacher at private school.
Plaintiff was the executive assistant for the CEO of a Silicon Valley tech company for only a few years. She was fired for absenteeism and poor work performance; however, plaintiff had a personal relationship with the CEO’s family and claimed that the personal relationship both interfered with her ability to do her office work and lead to her termination.
Elder abuse case involving the death of a client’s father at a skilled nursing facility due to neglect, dehydration, and open wounds. Case settled at early mediation.
Elder abuse case involving the death of a fellow attorney’s mother within a month of moving into an upscale care facility in Marin County, because she was not given medications. Expedited settlement within three months of claim.
Wrongful death of the 20-year-old daughter of Renee and Israel Morales in the San Bruno PG&E gas pipeline explosion, with co-counsel John Feder. We were the second case to go to mediation resulting in one of the highest settlements in history. We also accompanied Renee Morales to the PG&E criminal trial over 5 years later.
Bicyclist suffered broken wrist injury requiring multiple surgeries in no liability case.
The Hastings Community Justice Clinic represented a plaintiff in an employment case that Ms. Bogaards successfully mediated in
April 2022. Professor Goishi stated about her experience with Ms. Bogaards:
“We (plaintiff and his representatives) greatly appreciated Ms. Bogaards’ optimism and enthusiasm for the mediation process. This set a very positive tone and framing for the mediation itself. We also appreciated that she was a great listener, and welcomed hearing background information and emotional content that is present in most disputes, but that is often glossed over or ignored. She also did a great job of reality-checking, gently telling us about the potential weaknesses in our case. Finally, we thought it was great that she reminded us that a successful mediation will be one where both parties are unhappy. This was a great reminder of the nature of compromise. She also reiterated the upside of settling, as opposed to taking our chances with proceeding with the litigation — helpful to remind the parties about the risks of proceeding.”
My mediation appointment with Ms. Bogaards was more than interesting as it was conducted exclusively by phone due to the health crisis. Despite this, it went smoothly and productively. The case settled within the allotted time frame due largely in part to Ms. Bogaards persistence but also her vast experience in personal injury work. It was obvious her defense and plaintiff’s background gave her credibility with both parties. All in all, it was all a very positive experience for a first-time use. She was prepared and knew the flash points needed to get this settled. It took time but it was due to the parties obstinance, which she dealt with professionally and civilly. I’ve known Ms. Bogaards over the years from having litigated with her in her role as a defense attorney. I thought this case was perfect for a Mediator with a defense background that also does plaintiff’s work, as she does. I was very impressed with her grasp of value as regards a plaintiff’s case. She was spot on regarding the values and issues. I would not hesitate to use her again and recommend her as a Mediator to all plaintiff’s attorneys who view her strictly as a former defense attorney. She is way more than that; very efficient, there was no wasted time.
Debra Bogaards is one of the most thorough, skilled and aggressive litigators in the Bay Area. She protects her clients and their interests like a mama bear to her cubs. I speak both as a client for whom Ms. Bogaards achieved an incredible result, and as a colleague who has worked beside Ms. Bogaards and has seen her diligence and thought process. Here skillset and tremendous presence and command, regardless of the forum, makes for a most fierce litigator. Ms. Bogaards is always my first recommendation to clients and friends seeking to protect their legal rights relating to personal injuries.