California Code of Civil Procedure 1174.2 discusses the substantial breach of the warranty of habitability in California. Oftentimes, a tenant will raise “breach of the warranty of habitability” as a defense to an unlawful detainer action. If the tenant raises the warranty of habitability as a defense to an unlawful detainer, the court will need to determine whether or not there is a breach and if if the breach is substantial.
If the court finds a substantial breach of the warranty of habitability under CCP 1174.2, the court “(1) shall determine the reasonable rental value of the premises in its untenantable state to the date of trial, (2) shall deny possession to the landlord and adjudge the tenant to be the prevailing party, conditioned upon the payment by the tenant of the rent that has accrued to the date of the trial as adjusted pursuant to this subdivision within a reasonable period of time not exceeding five days, from the date of the court’s judgment or, if service of the court’s judgment is made by mail, the payment shall be made within the time set forth in Section 1013, (3) may order the landlord to make repairs and correct the conditions which constitute a breach of the landlord’s obligations, (4) shall order that the monthly rent be limited to the reasonable rental value of the premises as determined pursuant to this subdivision until repairs are completed, and (5) shall award the tenant costs and attorneys’ fees if provided by, and pursuant to, any statute or the contract of the parties. CCP 1174.2(a).
Alternatively, if the court finds no substantial breach of the warranty of habitability, then the tenant does not win based on habitability and judgment would be in the favor of the landlord. CCP 1174.2(b).
Substantial breach means the failure of the landlord to comply with applicable building and housing code standards which materially affect health and safety. CCP 1174.2(c).
What does all of this mean in simple terms? Basically, if a landlord is found to have substantially breached the warranty of habitability, the court may order the landlord to make repairs to the property. The court may order the tenant to pay a reduced rental rate less than the contract rate, until the breach is fixed. Normally the court gives the tenant 5 days to pay the reduced rate. If the tenant does NOT pay the reduced rate within 5 days, then judgment for the landlord. But if the tenant pays within the 5 days, then the court will generally award possession to the tenant.
The Law Office of David Piotrowski has a long history of success in winning eviction trials on behalf of the landlord. If you need help with an eviction in Southern California, contact us today. We represent landlords in eviction cases.
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