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San Francisco Habitability Lawyer


Habitability Issues


Habitability Lawyer in San Francisco, CA


Every residential lease in California carries an implied warranty of habitability. This fundamental concept imposes a duty on a landlord to provide safe, sanitary, and livable apartments. The duty covers both private living spaces and the public spaces within a building. If you’re facing housing habitability issues, our San Francisco habitability lawyer can help you take legal action and protect your rights.

Landlords have a duty to keep the premises structurally safe, free from vermin, and have a safe electrical system and smoke detectors. If a landlord fails in this duty, a tenant can take legal action to compel the landlord to correct the condition or provide a partial refund of rent paid. In some cases, a tenant can stop paying rent or leave the property.

A landlord who has breached the warranty of habitability can even become liable for damages for the discomfort, annoyance, and emotional distress suffered by a tenant. On the other hand, an uninhabitable condition caused by a tenant does not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability.

At Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C., our San Francisco landlord tenant lawyers have more than 25 years of experience representing landlords and tenants in the Bay Area and California. We are committed to protecting the rights of our clients while providing responsive and personalized service.

Call us at 415-991-6078 to get legal help in your habilitability issues and landlord-tenant disputes today!

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Whether you're dealing with a landlord-tenant dispute or addressing a real estate concern in California, our San Francisco real estate attorneys are here to protect your rights.

Tenant Rights to a Livable Rental Home


One of the responsibilities of a landlord is to provide tenants with a livable, safe, and secured rental home. State laws entitle renters to livable housing regardless of the amount of rental payment. A reliable habitability lawyer in San Francisco can help you determine your rights as a tenant. A livable housing has to meet the following requirements:

  • Working electricity
  • Sufficient hot water during cold weather
  • Sturdy roof, floors, and walls
  • Reasonable protection from criminal intrusion
  • Up-to-date conformity to building codes
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • No significant danger from environmental hazards (such as lead, asbestos, and mold)

The Implied Warranty of Habitability


The tenant’s right to a livable rental home is called the “implied warranty of habitability.” This is a legal term used to describe the “promise” of a landlord to provide a livable home to a renter. Because this warranty requires a building to be habitable, it usually does not apply to commercial or industrial spaces. It states that all tenants are entitled to a suitable place to live, regardless of the landlord’s rent.

The warranty states the tenant’s duty to pay rent and the landlord’s duty to maintain habitable living space. This makes it easier for tenants to get landlords to make repairs. This warranty consists of rules prohibiting landlords from retaliating against tenants who complain about housing code violations.

This warranty is implied by law in all residential leases that are in the jurisdiction. Most of the states recognize this warranty, either by statute or by court decision. A credible San Francisco habitability lawyer can help you understand the state laws on the implied warranty of habitability. In most states, landlords have the following responsibilities:

  • Keep the structural elements of the building safe and secured
  • Maintain public areas safe and clean
  • Keep electrical, sanitary, plumbing, heating, ventilating systems and elevators operational
  • Supply hot and cold water at all times
  • Storing common environmental hazards
  • Exterminate rodents and other vermin, andT
  • Make reasonable safety measures to prevent criminal intrusions

Tenant’s Rights to a Livable Place Is Not Waivable


The implied warranty of habitability for tenants cannot be waived. Landlords are not allowed to disregard their habitability responsibilities using a “disclaimer.” Furthermore, courts will not support any landlord-tenant agreement to waive the implied warranty of habitability.

A landlord violates the implied warranty of habitability if a problem arises because of the landlord’s negligence posing a threat to the health and safety of tenants. The actual violation depends on the requirements in the state. A qualified habitability lawyer in San Francisco can help you understand how the implied warranty of habitability protects your rights as a tenant.

The Importance of Classifying Your Repair Problem


Repairs can be classified either as minor or major problems. A defect is considered “minor” not because of the repair cost but because it does not make the rental property uninhabitable. A minor defect that doesn’t affect the safety of tenants is not considered a breach of the implied warranty of habitability. A minor defect can be frustrating, but it doesn’t critically affect the health and safety of tenants. In contrast, a “major” issue makes the property unlivable. Landlords must comply with the housing or building codes and standards that materially affect a tenant’s safety and health.

Most of the time, the differences between major and minor repairs aren’t clear. To properly categorize a particular problem, seeking legal help from a knowledgeable habitability lawyer in San Francisco is advisable. You need to find out the source of the implied warranty – a local ordinance, state statute, or a court decision. Some state laws may contain specific rules and guidelines that you must meet under the implied warranty.

It is crucial that you know and understands how to categorize your repair problems correctly before declaring that your landlord has violated the implied warranty of habitability. There are several legal steps that you can take to force a landlord to fix a major repair. However, these steps might not successfully work for a minor repair. It may cause legal disputes if misused.

Consult a qualified habitability lawyer in San Francisco today so can help you with your repair problems.

Tenant Options When a Landlord Breaches the Warranty of Habitability


If a landlord fails to meet the implied warranty of habitability requirements, the tenant’s options are dictated by state laws. When landlords fail to provide livable housing that meets the requirements, tenants can take legal action to enforce the implied warranty of habitability. Most states allow a tenant to:

  • Pay for repairs and deduct the cost from their rent
  • Withhold rentbreak the lease (move out without notice) and without liability for future rent
  • Sue the landlord

Remember that you must not do any of these “self-help” solutions against your landlord without first checking the state laws. A reliable San Francisco habitability lawyer can help you comply with the state’s rules where you live in. For instance, if you withhold rent in a place where it is not recognized as a legal tenant remedy, your landlord can terminate your tenancy and evict you for violating the agreement on rental payment.

Landlord Liability for Unsafe Conditions

Call Our Habitability Lawyer Today!

Having handled thousands of cases, our San Francisco real estate attorneys understand landlord-tenant law. And the fact that we have represented both tenants and landlords provides our clients with a distinct advantage.

Our San Francisco real estate litigation attorneys and habitability lawyers at Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C. are problem solvers, seeking positive outcomes for our clients. Rather than running up legal bills, we work to resolve problems to the satisfaction of our clients in a timely and cost-effective manner. Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, we will work hard to achieve results for you.

To schedule a consultation about a housing habitability issue in the Bay Area, call Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C. at 415-562-0504 or contact us online.

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