Oakland Housing Lawyer on the Promise of Habitability

At one point, perhaps in our earliest years on our own, most of us lived someplace “less than perfect.” It may have had virtually non-existent water pressure, windows that didn’t open, or lingering odors from a prior tenant’s incontinent cats. There is, however, a level of living conditions that no one should have to face. It is a deplorable level of circumstances that render a unit uninhabitable and can violate both state and local laws. People facing such conditions should consult an experienced Oakland landlord-tenant lawyer for help.

Tenants Tell of Deplorable Conditions in Oakland Apartment Building
In a San Francisco Chronicle report, the tenants of the 55-unit Booker Emery building are speaking out about the terrible living conditions they claim have plagued the West Oakland apartment complex for years. A 28 year-old resident named Tiffany says the complex is infested with roaches, bedbugs, and mold and that the landlord has refused to fix these problems and others, such as leaky pipes, during her four years as a tenant. She says the mold and bacteria made her ill and that she was bitten by bedbugs and roaches at the 715 Peralta Street location located near the West Oakland BART station.

Along with ten other tenants, she accused landlord Ramdas Darke of ignoring complaints and refusing to fix problems at the apartment complex. The case is complicated by the defense’s claim that the 77 year old landlord was taken to a care home in December, a facility specializing in memory issues. Darke’s family members say they are distressed by the allegations and have taken steps to remedy the pest problems.

Writers at the Chronicle suggest the issues at the Booker Emery building are part of a larger problem in Oakland where housing costs have risen leaving the poorer residents living in increasingly squalid conditions. The East Bay Solidarity Network, a tenants rights group, suggests Oakland has focused on certain communities and left people in other race and class groups struggling. Gentrification has, according to organizers, left some longtime residents feeling squeezed out of the city or stuck in troubling conditions. The city has not replied to these charges, but the Rent Adjustment Board has begun to look into the conditions at the Booker Emery and issuing rent credits to tenants. While a final decision is pending, the board has said tenants should be compensated for the bedbugs and other problems at the location.

Legal Protections for California Renters
There is a power imbalance between renters and landlords, especially in lower income housing. In recognition of this imbalance, there are a number of laws and regulations that protect tenants from unhealthy or dangerous housing conditions and from unjust eviction. Tenants can find useful details on their rights under California law on the Department of Consumer Affairs website. One of the most fundamental of these rights is the warranty of habitability, a requirement that all rental units are fit for human occupation. Examples of conditions that render a unit uninhabitable are non-functional heating units, the presence of mold or vermin, and inadequate weather protection.

The warranty of habitability is a promise built into every housing contract. If you believe this guarantee is being violated or your rights as a tenant are otherwise compromised, call our Oakland housing lawyer for help. Attorney Brod and the rest of our legal team will fight for you.

See Related Blog Posts:
What Does “Habitability” Mean in California?

California Landlord-Tenant Law Protects Renters from Common Contaminants