Civil Code 1942’s “Repair and Deduct” Remedy

 

Civil Code 1942 is the California law that discusses the “repair and deduct” rules that allow a tenant, under certain circumstances, to make repairs to the property and deduct the amount of the repairs from the rent.

Repair and Deduct Under Civil Code 1942

If a tenant notifies a landlord of problems relating to the habitability of the rental property and the landlord fails to take action to repair the problem within a reasonable time (for example, within 30 days after being notified of the issue), a tenant has the option to make the repair. This Civil Code 1942 remedy is not unlimited, however.

The cost of the repair under the Civil Code 1942 repair and deduct remedy cannot cost more than one month’s rent. Further, the tenant cannot avail himself of this remedy more than twice in any 12-month period.

If the tenant does not wish to make the repair, the tenant can instead decide to move out of the property and deliver possession back to landlord. If the tenant decides to move out under this scenario, the tenant will not need to make future rent payments and is discharged from the other conditions of the rental agreement as of the date the tenant delivered possession back to the landlord.

It is a best practice to keep all landlord and tenant communications in writing, including tenant repair requests and a landlord’s proof of completed repairs.

Civil Code 1942 Video

Civil Code 1942 FAQ

How often can a tenant use the “repair and deduct” option found in Civil Code 1942?

No more than two times in any 12-month period.

Does a tenant need to provide notice to the landlord before a tenant uses the “repair and deduct” option?

Yes. A tenant must provide written or oral notice of dilapidations rendering the premises untenantable which the landlord ought to repair and give the landlord a reasonable time to make the repairs first. Many rental agreements require a tenant to provide written notice to a landlord instead of oral notice.

How much notice should a tenant give to the landlord before using the “repair and deduct” remedy in Civil Code 1942?

As much notice as possible. If a tenant acts to repair and deduct after the 30th day following notice, he is presumed to have acted after a reasonable time. This 30 day notice period is a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of producing evidence and shall not be construed to prevent a tenant from repairing and deducting after a shorter notice if all the circumstances require shorter notice.

Can a tenant make large repairs to the property?

The tenant may repair the problem himself where the cost of such repair does not cost more than one month’s rent. Note that many rental agreements have a clause prohibiting a tenant from making alternations or repairs to the property without notifying or getting permission from the landlord.

If a landlord doesn’t make the needed repairs after the tenant has provided the required notice, can a tenant move out of the property instead of making the repairs under Civil Code 1942?

 Yes. As an alternative to making the repairs under Civil Code 1942, the tenant may vacate the premises and give possession of the property back to the landlord.

What if the tenant caused the problem?

The “repair and deduct” remedy found in Civil Code 1942 is not available if the tenant caused the problem or is in violation of Civil Code 1929 or Civil Code 1941.2.

Still Have Questions?

Landlords can always schedule a consultation with us to discuss specific questions and situations relating to California landlord/tenant law. You can also read the language of Civil Code 1942 here.

Disclaimer

The information in this article and blog is not meant to be legal advice and is intended for educational purposes only. The laws change frequently and this article may not be updated to reflect current rules. Do not rely on this article when making legal decisions. Consult with legal counsel regarding your particular case before taking any action.

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