California Civil Code 1941.1 – Implied Warranty of Habitability

 

There is a warranty of habitability implied in every California residential rental agreement. This warranty of habitability, outlined in Civil Code 1941.1, exists whether or not the rental agreement specifically mentions it. To be sure, in the court case of Green v. Superior Court in 1974, the California Supreme Court held that a “warranty of habitability” is implied in all residential rental agreements. The implied warranty of habitability requires residential landlords to maintain their rented properties in a habitable condition. So, what exactly is the implied warranty of habitability outlined in California Civil Code 1941.1, and what does it mean in the landlord/tenant context?

According to California Code 1941.1,

(a) A dwelling shall be deemed untenantable for purposes of Section 1941 if it substantially lacks any of the following affirmative standard characteristics or is a residential unit described in Section 17920.3 or 17920.10 of the Health and Safety Code:

(1) Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors.

(2) Plumbing or gas facilities that conformed to applicable law in effect at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.

(3) A water supply approved under applicable law that is under the control of the tenant, capable of producing hot and cold running water, or a system that is under the control of the landlord, that produces hot and cold running water, furnished to appropriate fixtures, and connected to a sewage disposal system approved under applicable law.

(4) Heating facilities that conformed with applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.

(5) Electrical lighting, with wiring and electrical equipment that conformed with applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.

(6) Building, grounds, and appurtenances at the time of the commencement of the lease or rental agreement, and all areas under control of the landlord, kept in every part clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.

(7) An adequate number of appropriate receptacles for garbage and rubbish, in clean condition and good repair at the time of the commencement of the lease or rental agreement, with the landlord providing appropriate serviceable receptacles thereafter and being responsible for the clean condition and good repair of the receptacles under his or her control.

(8) Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair.

(9) A locking mail receptacle for each residential unit in a residential hotel, as required by Section 17958.3 of the Health and Safety Code. This subdivision shall become operative on July 1, 2008.

(b) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to prohibit a tenant or owner of rental properties from qualifying for a utility energy savings assistance program, or any other program assistance, for heating or hot water system repairs or replacement, or a combination of heating and hot water system repairs or replacements, that would achieve energy savings.

In sum, Civil Code 1941.1 says that a unit “shall be deemed” to be “untenantable” i.e. uninhabitable, if the unit lacks the following or is a substandard unit described in Health and Safety Code 17920.3 or contains lead hazards as described in Health and Safety Code 17920.10: weather protection, plumbing and gas that was up to code at the time of installation and maintained in good working condition, hold and cold running water, heating that was installed per code and maintained in good working condition, electricity, including lighting, wiring, and equiment, maintained in good working condition, clean and sanitary premises, trash facilities, floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good working order, and locking mail receptacles for residential hotels. Furthermore, landlords should provide locking windows and doors, but whether locking windows and doors would be a breach of the warranty of habitability is debatable.

A landlord’s breach of the warranty of habitability is a defense to an unlawful detainer (eviction) case based on non-payment of rent, because a tenant’s obligation to pay rent and the landlord’s warranty of habitability are mutually dependent. Before a landlord files an eviction case based on non-payment of rent, the landlord should take steps to ensure the property is habitable.

Nothwithstanding the above, it is the tenant’s duty and obligation not to damage the property and must maintain ordinary care of the property per Civil Code 1929.

Note that the implied warranty of habitability applies only to residential rentals and not to commercial rentals. Note also that residential landlords cannot avoid the warranty of habitability by “contracting around it.” The warranty of habitability is non-waivable per Civil Code 1942.1, unless the landlord and tenant agreed that the tenant shall make repairs as part of the consideration for renting the property (but this is not advisble).

This article only lists some of the warranty of habitability concerns in California tenancies. A lawyer should be consulted regarding your specific case.

Read David Piotrowski’s “Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview” book. If you need help with an eviction, contact us today. We only represent landlords. Also, be sure to check out our reviews! We look forward to helping you. We offer a free consultation for landlords on most cases.

 

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Potential Settlement in a California Unlawful Detainer (Eviction)

 

Oftentimes, agreeing to a reasonable settlement in a California unlawful detainer eviction case is in the landlord’s best interests. As a landlord, you want to receive possession of your property as quickly and efficiently as possible. A settlement will sometimes obtain that result quicker than going to trial.

There are several types of settlements possible in an unlawful detainer case, and a settlement can be an efficient way to regain possession of the property quickly. For example, on an eviction case based on non-payment of rent, the landlord may agree to waive the unpaid rent in exchange for the tenant vacating quickly. Or, the parties may agree to give the tenant an extra 30 days to vacate, in exchange for a promise from the tenant not to seek any delays or extensions.

One of the best ways to settle a case from a landlord’s perspective is via a “stipulated judgment.” The stipulated judgment can say that the judgment will not be executed if the tenant moves out of the property by a certain date. Another nice thing about an unlawful detainer settlement made while the case is pending is that it can be worded in such a way that if one party doesn’t comply with the terms of the settlement, the other party can go to court and ask the court to enforce the terms of the settlement.

Read David Piotrowski’s “Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview” book. If you need help with an eviction, including possible settlements, contact us today. Also, be sure to check out our reviews! We look forward to helping you. We offer a free consultation on most cases.

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Ventura Property Management Company

 

Are you in need of a Ventura property management company? We can help. We recently helped a landlord find a qualified renter in Ventura within one week of listing the property. The landlord received the deposit check from the tenant and signed a rental agreement at the landlord’s asking price, all within a week of having us list the property for the Ventura landlord!

Do you have a property for rent in Ventura? Our Ventura property management company can help you, too!

We offer different types of Ventura property management services to meet your needs. We can help you find a qualified renter, and then you take over from there with the monthly management. We can also manage your Ventura property on a monthly basis, collecting rents, responding to repair requests, and more. This option allows you to relax and collect a rent payment each month.

Want to learn more about our Ventura property management services? Or perhaps you need help with an eviction in Ventura. Contact us today and let us show you how we can help you.

 

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CCP 998 Offer to Compromise in an Unlawful Detainer Eviction Case in California

 

California Code of Civil Procedure 998, also known as CCP 998, can be a powerful tool for settling cases. This article discusses CCP 998 in the unlawful detainer (eviction) context.

Part of CCP 998 states:

…any party may serve an offer in writing upon any other party to the action to allow judgment to be taken or an award to be entered in accordance with the terms and conditions stated at that time… (CCP 998(b))

In the case of a landlord/plaintiff making the CCP 998 offer, the code says:

If an offer made by a plaintiff is not accepted and the defendant fails to obtain a more favorable judgment or award in any action or proceeding other than an eminent domain action, the court or arbitrator, in its discretion, may require the defendant to pay a reasonable sum to cover postoffer costs of the services of expert witnesses, who are not regular employees of any party, actually incurred and reasonably necessary in either, or both, preparation for trial or arbitration, or during trial or arbitration, of the case by the plaintiff, in addition to plaintiff’s costs. (CCP 998(d))

In other words, if the landlord/plaintiff makes an offer to the tenant/defendant, and if the tenant rejects the offer and the tenant fails to obtain a more favorable judgment, the tenant may have to pay the plaintiff’s postoffer costs (including attorney fees as costs), and possibly expert witness fees. CCP 998 can therefore be used as  a litigation fee-shifting tool in some unlawful detainer/eviction circumstances.

Important to mention is that CCP 998 goes both ways. Not discussed in this article are consequences to a landlord/plaintiff if the tenant/defendant is the party to make the 998 offer, that offer is rejected by the plaintiff, and the plaintiff fails to receive a more favorable outcome.

This article does not seek to define what terms should be included in a settlement offer, nor describe the items required to be in such an offer. Counsel should be consulted for your particular case.

California Code of Civil Procedure 998 is a powerful tool for parties to use in unlawful detainer eviction cases.

Read David Piotrowski’s “Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview” book. If you need help with an eviction, including possible settlements under CCP 998, contact us today. Also, be sure to check out our reviews! We look forward to helping you. We offer a free consultation on most cases.

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CCP 1161(4) Termination of Tenancy Based on Nuisance in California

 

California Code of Civil Procedure 1161(4) (also referred to as CCP 1161(4)) allows a landlord to evict a tenant if the tenant is causing a nuisance at the rental property.

CCP 1161(4) states that a person is guilty of unlawful detainer (and can be evicted) when:

4. Any tenant, subtenant, or executor or administrator of his or her estate heretofore qualified and now acting, or hereafter to be qualified and act, assigning or subletting or committing waste upon the demised premises, contrary to the conditions or covenants of his or her lease, or maintaining, committing, or permitting the maintenance or commission of a nuisance upon the demised premises or using the premises for an unlawful purpose, thereby terminates the lease, and the landlord, or his or her successor in estate, shall upon service of three days’ notice to quit upon the person or persons in possession, be entitled to restitution of possession of the demised premises under this chapter.  For purposes of this subdivision, a person who commits or maintains a public nuisance as described in Section 3482.8 of the Civil Code, or who commits an offense described in subdivision (c) of Section 3485 of the Civil Code, or subdivision (c) of Section 3486 of the Civil Code, or uses the premises to further the purpose of that offense shall be deemed to have committed a nuisance upon the premises.

The section of CCP 1161(4) dealing with nuisance is highlighted above. (CCP 1161(4) can also be used to evict a tenant who is participating in illegal activities at the property or assigning/subleasing without permission. These reasons for eviction under CCP 1161(4) are discussed elsewhere).

CCP 1161(4) is a powerful tool for the landlord because it allows the landlord to evict a tenant without providing the tenant an opportunity to “cure.” CCP 1161(4) is vastly different from CCP 1161(2) and CCP 1161(3) because both of those laws gives the tenant an opportunity to fix their violation. For example, CCP 1161(2) says the tenant must either pay the rent or move within 3 days. Similarly, CCP 1161(3) says the tenant must either cure their rental agreement violation or move within 3 days. Conversely, CCP 1161(4) says the tenant must move within 3 days (with no option to fix the violation).

Since an 1161(4) notice based on nuisance cannot be cured by the tenant, the notice should unequivocally state that the tenancy is being terminated and the tenant does not have an option to fix the violation. Because CCP 1161(4) is very strict, courts will analyze the landlord’s claim of nuisance to a relatively high level, asking the question whether or not the landlord’s issue really constitutes a nuisance to support an eviction under CCP 1161(4). So, what constitutes a nuisance to support an unlawful detainer under California Code of Civil Procedure 1161(4)?

A nuisance is an act that is injurious to health or indecent or offensive to the senses or that obstructs the free use of property so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property (Civil Code 3479). Some examples include unlawful controlled substances offenses, unlawful weapons or ammunition offenses, or using the property to further such an offense. Dogfighting and cockfighting is also deemed a nuisance. If the landlord is able to obtain a police report or arrest report showing any of these offenses, it will greatly assist with the CCP 1161(4) case.

Because of the relative high level of scrutiny applied by the courts in CCP 1161(4) nuisance cases, the landlord should not base his unlawful detainer off of a single nuisance occurrence or a relatively minor nuisance issue. The landlord is more likely to be successful if he first sends a warning notice to the tenant and then serves a 1161(4) nuisance 3 day notice if the tenant continues causing a nuisance at the property. Another question for the landlord to ask is whether or not the nuisance is “curable.” If it is, perhaps the landlord should utilize CCP 1161(3) instead, giving the tenant 3 days to cure his violation before commencing the unlawful detainer action.

This article does not discuss the contents of the 3 day notice under CCP 1161(4). The courts are very strict on the contents of the notice and the way it is served. Landlords are urged to hire competent legal counsel.

Read David Piotrowski’s “Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview” book. If you need help with an eviction, including drafting a valid CCP 1161(4) notice and serving the tenant, contact us today. Also, be sure to check out our reviews! We look forward to helping you. We offer a free consultation on most cases.

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