In California, landlords enter into something called an “implied warranty of habitability” when they sign a lease with you. This means they promise that the home you’re renting meets California’s requirements on buildings built for people to live in. These requirements are written in the California Civil Code Section 1941.1 and Health and Safety Code 17920.3 and are listed below, but this is not a complete list.
All load-bearing parts of the home – including floors, walls, partitions, ceilings, fireplaces, and chimneys – must be built strongly enough to support loads applied to them and be maintained in good repair. Stairways and railings must be maintained in good repair. The roof and exterior walls must have effective waterproofing and weather protection, including unbroken windows and doors. Rooms should not be damp or show visible mold growth, except for mold that is minor and present on surfaces that accumulate moisture as part of their normal use.
Water and sewage
The home must have a water supply capable of producing hot and cold running water that can be under the control of either the tenant or the landlord. The water must be supplied to appropriate fixtures (a sink, not a garden hose) and connected to a sewage disposal system. Sewage and water systems have to conform to building codes. The home must have a properly installed kitchen sink and bathroom facilities.
The home must have heating facilities, electric lighting, and plumbing or gas facilities maintained in good working order. Older facilities are allowed as long as they are up to the installation requirements of the time when they were put in. Required ventilation systems (such as in a bathroom with no window to release moisture) must operate properly. The home must have adequate fire extinguishing equipment or be built to resist fire.
Sanitation and trash
At the beginning of the rental agreement, the building and the property it’s on must be entirely clean and sanitary. In addition, it must be free from things like construction debris, garbage, or pests. In particular, there can be no accumulation of material likely to cause or increase the severity of a fire or explosion. The landlord must make appropriate containers for trash or other waste available to the tenant. The containers have to be clean and in good repair. The landlord is responsible for replacing, repairing, and maintaining containers under their control.
Additional Notes and Next Steps
If you live in a residential unit at a residential hotel, you must have available a locking receptacle to receive mail.
Even if you knew the home was uninhabitable when you first rented it, that does not release your landlord from their responsibilities. It is not a defense on their part to say “The tenant knew the condition when they rented the place.”
For information about your rights on having repairs made, go to Habitability and Repairs (Part 2).