Welcome to San Diego Blog | April 27, 2013
So you have a broken window in your apartment and you’re wondering if you can ask the landlord to pay for the repair? The general rule is that the landlord is responsible for maintaining the rental unit in livable condition and repairing serious defects that render the premises uninhabitable.
By law, all residential rental agreements in California contain an “implied warranty of habitability,” requiring the landlord to repair substantial defects that affect health, safety and livability. The law is fairly specific as to the types of conditions that make a rental uninhabitable. The landlord is responsible for repairing problems with weatherproofing, heating, plumbing, gas, electricity, lights, floors, stairs, railings, door & window locks, clean grounds, pests, and major appliances, as well as for items that they have specifically agreed to furnish in the lease. In this case, a broken window affects both safety and livability.
If the landlord refuses to make repairs within a reasonable period of time after the tenant gives written notice of the defect, the tenant many under certain circumstances make the repairs and deduct the expense from the next month’s rent payment. This is known as the “repair and deduct” remedy.
Unless the lease states otherwise, the landlord generally is not responsible for cosmetic repairs or minor defects that do not affect safety and livability. For instance, the landlord would not have to pay for repairing a broken doorbell or repainting a bathroom. Also, it is the responsibility of the tenant, not the landlord, to keep the unit clean and fix any damage caused by the tenant’s own lack of care. The landlord, on the other hand, would likely be responsible for replacing a garbage disposal or a thermostat that stopped working.
Renters should not hesitate to bring serious problems to the attention of their landlord or property manager, as most owners want to keep their rental units in good, livable condition. Disputes over repairs do occur from time to time, but disagreements often can be avoided through communication and a clear understanding of each party’s rights and responsibilities.
Please call us if we can help (619) 246-8400.