California Civil Code Section 1942 allows a tenant in some cases to make repairs to a residential unit and deduct the amount of the repairs from the rent.
If within a reasonable time after written or oral notice to the landlord or his agent, outlining problems that need to be repaired and of which render the unit untenantable, and the landlord neglects to make the repairs, the tenant may make the repairs where the cost of such repairs does not cost more than one month’s rent. The tenant can then deduct the amount of the repairs from the rent payment. Alternatively, the tenant may vacate the premises. The tenant may only use this “repair and deduct” remedy twice in a 12-month period.
For purposes of the repair and deduct remedy, a tenant will be presumed to have waited a reasonable time if the tenant acts after waiting at least 30 days from the time the landlord or the landlord’s agent is notified. However, this is a rebuttable presumption. The facts of the case may warrant a shorter or longer notification period.
Any agreement waiving the tenant’s right to “repair and deduct” is void and unenforceable.
As a side note, landlords will sometimes give permission to a tenant to make their own repairs. In practice, landlords should never allow the tenant to make their own repairs. The landlord should make all required repairs when notified of the problem by the tenant.
For more information on evictions in California, visit the Law Office of David Piotrowski.
For more eviction blog posts, click here.