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What conditions make a California rental legally uninhabitable?

As someone who rents a California property, you have certain rights, and one of those involves the right to a habitable, livable space. Essentially, this means it must be fit to house human life and that it adheres to all building, energy and health codes designed to ensure safety and optimum health for the renting population.

Regrettably, not all rental properties meet these standards. Worse yet, some landlords downright ignore them. The following is a list of some of the things your rental unit must have to be legally habitable in the eyes of the law.

A safe electrical system

Your landlord has a legal obligation to provide you with a safe, functional electrical system that is in good working condition. This includes all lighting, wiring and related equipment.

Appropriate bathroom fixtures

Anyone who rents you a unit in California must make sure it has a functional toilet, sink, and bathtub or shower fixture. Furthermore, the toilet and tub or shower must be in a private, properly ventilated room that is separate from the rest of your living space.

Sanitary living areas and grounds

Your landlord, too, must make sure that your living quarters, the grounds directly around them, and your garage and other outbuildings, if applicable, are clean and sanitary. This means they must be free from pests (rats and other rodents, for example), trash and filth.

Working smoke detectors

If you rent in a multi-unit building, such as a condo complex or townhouse, your landlord must install a working smoke detector. If you live in a residential apartment building, smoke detectors must also be present in any community hallways.  

While this list gives you an overview of some of the types of things your landlord has a responsibility to provide for you, it is not an exhaustive list. If your landlord does not meet these and other conditions, you may have legal recourse. 

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