Law Office of Paul Mankin
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Los Angeles Consumer Protection Law Blog

Everything you never wanted to know about bedbugs

Bedbugs. What a revolting thought. Do you have them in your California home or apartment? Before you answer with an emphatic “no,” be aware that you could have a bedbug infestation without even knowing it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that bedbugs are on the rise in America.

These tiny pests range in size from nearly microscopic to less than a quarter inch in length. Assuming you can see them at all, their color is reddish-brown, they have no wings, and they are very good at hiding, particularly in and around the places you sleep such as in your mattress or bedding seams, your box springs, your bed frame, your headboard’s and night stand’s cracks and crevices, behind your wallpaper or in any other object or clutter around your bed.

Signs of lead paint exposure in your apartment

Lead paint is a serious health hazard. According to the EPA, millions of homes and buildings have harmful lead paint. If you live in an apartment built prior to 1978, you may suffer from lead paint exposure. 

Inhaling lead dust or ingesting lead paint chips may result in severe health complications. This is especially a concern if you have young children. Here are some warning signs you may be living in an apartment with lead paint. 

The dangers of residential water damage

As a tenant, you are responsible to inform your landlord when a leak occurs. However, it is the landlord's responsibility to repair the leak immediately. Failure to do so right away can lead to serious water damage in your home.

Plumbing issues can cause more than just a high water bill or a flooded bathroom. They also can result in major property damage and health hazards. If your landlord does not fix the problem, you can hold him or her legally accountable for any injury it causes you.

Can you legally break your lease?

If you signed a lease when you moved into your California home or apartment and now find that you must move even though your lease term still has several months to go, you probably wonder if you can legally break your lease. The answer is yes, but only under certain circumstances

Bear in mind that having a valid reason for breaking your lease is not necessarily the same as having a legal reason to do so. For example, if you must relocate because of your job, that is a valid reason to move, but not a legal reason to break your existing lease. Without a legal reason, your landlord can continue to charge you for each remaining month’s rent and does not have to return your security deposit. If you simply move out without giving a reason, and giving your landlord the opportunity to fix any problems that exist in your home or apartment, you face the possibility of losing your deposit and paying potentially substantial amounts for a dwelling in which you no longer live.

3 options to consider if your landlord is not making repairs

As a renter in California, you deserve a habitable rental unit. Your landlord has legal responsibilities for making necessary repairs and maintenance. If your apartment is unhealthy or unsafe and your landlord refuses to resolve the issue, you probably feel angry and are wondering what you should do.

Thankfully, California laws provide you with various actions to take against a negligent landlord. Here are the remedies you should consider if you are dealing with an unresponsive landlord. 

3 signs your apartment is unlivable

Is your apartment uninhabitable? California rental laws require apartments to suitable for humans to live in, free of hazards that put the safety and health of occupants at risk. Landlords are legally responsible for making rental units livable, conducting repairs throughout the rental term and maintaining the premises.

Is your landlord not holding up his or her end of the agreement? Here are some signs your apartment is uninhabitable

Are you afraid of landlord retaliation?

Many people live in conditions that are untenable. For example, a landlord might do nothing about a bedbug infestation, broken door and leaky toilet. As a result, the tenants deal with a lot of stress and worries about their health and safety. Even friendships can suffer when children do not want to bring their friends over to the house or apartment. In such situations, it is natural for a tenant to want to bring a landlord to court to force the issue.

However, what stops many is the fear of landlord retaliation. The apartment or house may be in conditions considered unlivable, but "at least" it is somewhere to go. It is a roof over your head. If a landlord retaliates, you and your children could be living out in the streets. The good news is that a landlord should not be able to retaliate, and the law is clear and strict on this issue.

What to do if your landlord will not fix your apartment

Renting an apartment comes with many benefits, such as community amenities, no property taxes and free maintenance. However, what if your landlord does not make repairs? What are you supposed to do?

The law allows you to withhold rent, deduct the cost of DIY repairs or abandon an uninhabitable living space. However, you must meet the requirements and follow the procedure correctly. Any mistakes can work against you and cause your landlord to begin the eviction process for nonpayment. It is better to take the following steps first instead.

Is it safe to live in an apartment with lead paint?

"The apartment has lead paint," is a phrase you are unlikely to enjoy hearing. However, if you have a limited budget, meaning you are also limited in your choice of apartments, then most of the places you are looking at might have lead paint.

The good news is that living in a place with lead paint is not, by itself, necessarily dangerous. Here is a look at why.

Act early if you suspect an issue with your landlord

Many landlords treat their tenants fairly, and many tenants follow the terms of their rental contracts. Sometimes, though, there are situations where landlords fall down miserably on their duties. Their negligence may even leave an apartment or house uninhabitable with a lack of heat, an infestation of bedbugs or cockroaches, or a leaky roof, to name just a few examples.

Often, multiple problems occur at the same time. The thing is that, in some situations, these problems may have started with just one single issue. Here is a look at why it is critical for tenants to take action as soon as possible even if they think they are dealing with just one relatively easy problem.

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