It is very important for a landlord to know what is required to maintain your rental property habitable. It is actually in landlord’s best interests to keep your investment in the best condition possible. It may be tempting to try and save money in this area, but if delaying repairs results in more tenant turnover, lower rental rate, injury or loss as a result of a safety violation, or even costly legal claim, you have cost yourself a lot of money that could have been spent improving your property.
At minimum what is required to maintain rental property habitable
All landlords are legally required to offer livable or habitable premises when they originally rent a unit in California, and to maintain it in that condition throughout the rental term. According to state laws, at minimum every rental must have:
- effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors
- functioning plumbing, heating, and electrical facilities, including hot and cold running water and a working toilet and kitchen sink
- clean and sanitary building and grounds (that is, free of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin), with adequate trash receptacles
- well-maintained floors, stairways, and railings
- deadbolt locks on certain doors and windows
- operating smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
- safe and clear emergency exits; and no harmful conditions such as mold or toxic fumes
- no lead paint hazards, and
- no nuisances, a catchall provision referring to something that is dangerous to human life, detrimental to health, or morally offensive and obnoxious, such as allowing drug dealing on the premises.
In addition, local governments have their own city or county building and housing codes (different from industry codes) that regulate structural aspects of buildings and establish minimum requirements for light, ventilation, heating, and the like. In most urban areas of California, local codes are more thorough than the state’s general housing law. Landlord responsibilities in California regarding appliances and carpets only apply if they somehow affect the health and well-being of residents.
California law considers appliances, such as refrigerators and dishwashers, as amenities, and their absence in a rental does not make the property uninhabitable. Therefore, landlords can customize their lease agreements with regard to the responsibilities of repairing or replacing appliances. Except for some of the rent controlled properties, as defined by local regulations, it is the landlord’s responsibility to repair or replace the appliance, if an appliance provided by your landlord breaks or stops working.
California law does not specify when landlords must replace carpeting in rental units. It does clarify that worn or aged, but otherwise undamaged, carpet does not affect a property’s habitability. The only time a
landlord must replace the carpet is if it somehow affects the health or safety of the tenants, such as if the carpet is moldy, unsanitary or ripped. The law does not govern aesthetics, so even if the carpet is stained or old, as long as it is in fair condition, the landlord does not have to replace it.
As landlord, to ensure the success of your rental property business, it is important to keep the property in good condition at all time, attend to maintenance issues promptly, maintain a proper budge for preventative maintenance. Real Property Management Choice is here to help rental property owners to avoid costly mistakes, reduce turn over, lease faster, place reliable tenants, reduce operating cost, and have better return.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.