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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Partial finger amputation of 8-year-old boy with comparative fault.
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.
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.
Wrist fracture arising out of pedestrian/auto accident, no surgery.
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.
Bicyclist suffered broken wrist injury requiring multiple surgeries in no liability case.
Race car professional suffered neuropathic leg pain when race car driver backed up into him, while standing at metal table in hangar.
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.
Cyclist gets doored by rideshare car. Bruising and scarring near eye and hand.
Over 35 years of professional excellence
I recently had to mediate a complex and difficult case, where opposing counsel and I agreed to use Debra as the mediator. I found her to be extraordinarily competent, empathetic and efficient in getting my case resolved.
Debra was very thorough, read through and understood all the materials, and was very well prepared. She privately met with the parties and impressed upon them the risks each of them faced by going to trial. As a result, the parties reached a compromise which was fair, and only accomplished because Debra was able to see the case from a good perspective from both the plaintiff and the defendant’s point of view.
A month before trial, Ms. Bogaards successfully mediated a challenging personal injury case and was able to effectively bridge a vast cultural and legal divide, to broker a settlement acceptable to all.
We were extremely pleased by Debra’s professional abilities and personal attention, and we recommend her without hesitation! If you can imagine a good experience with a lawyer, Debra is it.
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