What does the term "Habitability" mean and how does it affect me and my property?

temp-post-imageOne question that owners in California frequently face is whether they must provide air conditioning in a rental unit, and if so, whether and how quickly they must repair a broken air conditioner. While a functional heating system is required for habitability under statue, air conditioning is not listed as required and is typically considered an amenity. However, if the rental unit is in a geographic area that frequently and normally experiences high temperatures (such as the Coachella Valley), a tenant may be able to make an argument that the rental unit is not habitable without air conditioning. Tenants who have elderly or disabled household members may also argue that not having air conditioning is a health safety issue.

This list is the additional categories that the law considers emergencies in a tenant's habitability and failure to provide any of the following is considered a "substandard" condition.

  • Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors, and rooms which are not damp.

  • Operable dead bolt locks on each main entry door, and locks on all doors and windows with access to the outside or common areas. Any windows or doors that do not lock or operate properly is consdered a safety hazard and is a liability.

  • Plumbing facilities, including a kitchen sink, toilet, and bath or shower in good working order and including hot and cold running water, connected to a sewage disposal system. For example - If all working toilets in the home are backed up and sewage is in the home, this would be considered a health and safety issue and must be fixed as soon as possible. If repair cannot be make same day, tenants can be re-located and reimbursed for hotel costs, until he repair is made.

  • Gas facilities in good working order. For example - If there is no hot water to the home and is due to a faulty water heater, this would be considered habitability and must be fixed as soon as possible.

  • Heating facilities in good working order. Heater must be maintained and in working condition.

  • An electrical system, including lighting, wiring, and equipment, in good working order. For example - If power goes out to the entire home, this would be considered habitability and must be fixed as soon as possible.