As a tenant in Los Angeles County, you might feel powerless if the home that you rent or lease doesn’t meet certain living conditions. But the state specifically outlines several tenant’s rights for both property owners and tenants. In fact, there are several areas where you’ll never be at a disadvantage in a dispute with your landlord because California’s tenant law is on your side.
Tenants are protected under state and federal laws against housing discrimination because of a variety of factors, including sexual orientation or gender identity, race, religion, familial status, national origin, and disability.
As a renter, you are entitled to certain features that ensure your unit is livable. These include:
- functioning plumbing (hot and cold running water; working toilet; kitchen sink), heating, and electricity;
- effective weather protection and waterproofing, including unbroken doors and windows;
- clean and sanitary grounds (no debris, filth, vermin), with adequate receptacles for trash;
- deadbolt locks on certain windows and doors;
- well-maintained stairways, railings, and floors;
- no lead paint hazards;
- no nuisances (something dangerous or detrimental to tenants’ health, or morally offensive, such as drug dealing on the property).
What’s more, the law also specifies that landlords must disclose the following information to tenants (typically in the lease or rental agreement):
- whether the gas or electricity in the unit also serves other areas, and if so, how those costs will be allocated fairly;
- whether any mold on the premises exceeds permissible exposure limits or poses a health threat;
- what pest control company the landlord uses, along with what type of pest is targeted, the pesticides used, and their active ingredients;
- whether there are any known locations of formal federal or state ordnance (weapons or ammunition) within one mile;
- the website for the Department of Justice to search for registered sex offenders in the area.
Once you’ve moved in, you also have some leverage. For instance, unless there’s an emergency, your landlord must notify you 24 hours before legally accessing the property for repairs or necessary services. If your landlord fails to take care of certain repairs—such as a busted water heater—you can withhold your rent, or pay for the repairs yourself and deduct the cost from your rent (known as “repair and deduct”). The law says it’s illegal for landlords in Los Angeles County to retaliate against tenants who exercise such statutory rights.
As a tenant in California, you’re also allowed to call state or local health inspectors; sue your landlord; or move out without notice if your apartment does not meet minimum livable conditions. Victims of domestic violence also have certain protections under California tenant laws.
Lastly, tenants also are protected under city ordinances regarding health and safety, noise and nuisance regulations, anti-discrimination rules, and rent control. Not all cities in Los Angeles County have rent control laws, which limit how much and how often rent can be increased and limit late fees. Those that do are the City of Los Angeles, including the San Fernando Valley; Santa Monica; West Hollywood; and Beverly Hills.
If you’d like to know more about how California tenant law applies to your particular situation, call Parsanj Law Group at 818-698-6680 for a free consultation about your rights.