Articles Posted in Landlord-Tenant

todd-quackenbush-222-copy-300x183California law requires that landlords make residential rental properties habitable, that is, livable for tenants. In other words, the landlords must ensure that rented houses and apartments are safe.  The sections of California law that deal with the subject of habitability are Civil Code 1941.1 and Health and Safety Code 17920.3. Since almost any kind of damage to the structures of the rented residential property or any infestation by pests could make the property unsafe if the damage is not repaired or if the pests are not removed, it is not possible for the legal code to list every possible safety hazard that constitutes grounds for a landlord/tenant lawsuit. In general, the most serious hazards are the ones that have to do with insect infestations and toxic mold. If your landlord has allowed the property you rent to become unsafe, contact an attorney dealing with habitability issues.

Is Your Rented Apartment or House Habitable?

Anyone who has lived with a roommate knows that “sufficiently clean” can be a subjective measure. California law is clear, though, that landlords must ensure that rented properties are safe before a tenant suffers a serious injury or illness because of the poorly maintained property.  These are some problems that can be the basis for habitability disputes.

milind-kaduskar-87650-copy-300x300Why are people so afraid of bed bugs? Unlike mosquitoes, bed bugs cannot transmit malaria.  Unlike termites, bed bugs cannot destroy the wooden structures in your house. Unlike bees, bed bugs do not transmit deadly venom. Despite the dangers they do not pose, bed bugs are among the most troublesome pests found in the United States. Eradicating them from your apartment and possessions and preventing future infestations can be a herculean task, but in rental properties in California, it is a landlord’s legal obligation to deal appropriately with bed bug infestations. If you are renting a residential property, and your landlord has failed to take adequate measures to remove the bed bugs, despite your repeated requests, consult an attorney who works with landlord-tenant law cases related to habitability.

Recent Bed Bug Lawsuits in California

In the past year, courts in the State of California have issued several rulings in favor of tenants who complained of bed bug infestations in their rented apartments and houses. Here are some recent California cases involving bed bugs.

mike-wilson-175347-225x300As rents in certain areas of the country skyrocket, more and more tenants are asking why there is not some – or a better – form of rent control. As of right now, most landlords can increase the rent as much as they like as long as they give proper notice. One of the reasons for this in California is the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which was passed in 1995. The Act imposes limits on the kind of rent control policies cities can adopt. However, a measure to repeal the Act may be headed to the next November ballot in California.

The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act

There are a few significant provisions with the Act that many tenants believe are harmful in today’s real estate market. The Act bans cities from using rent caps on any unit built after February 1995. This a majority of apartments in California’s major cities cannot be rent controlled. All of the new development going up in cities like San Francisco can have exceedingly high rents and there is little local governments can do about it.

jon-moore-400422-unsplash-copy-300x200In mid-February, the California Supreme Court denied hearing a number of paint manufacturers’ appeals. The paint manufacturers, ConAgra, NL Industries, and Sherwin-Williams, were ordered in November by the Sixth District Court of Appeal in San Jose to pay a significant sum to the state to enable it to remove lead paint from older homes, where the paint still has the potential to cause people serious harm, particularly children. The manufacturers are responsible for homes built before 1951. The potential lead paint cleanup is intended for 10 cities and counties throughout the state, and is estimated to cost $400 million.

The ruling stands for now, however the manufacturers have been fighting this suit since 2000 and are not finished. They have indicated that they may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. They also intend to place an initiative on the California ballot, known as the Healthy Homes and Schools Act. If passed, taxpayers would carry the burden for the $2 billion bond ultimately used to fund the lead paint cleanup.

The Threat of Lead Paint

sabri-tuzcu-213760-copy-300x200Based on a 2016 survey, the American Pet Products Association estimates that 6% of American households have a pet. Most of these individuals own cats and dogs. However, other common household pets includes fish, reptiles, and other small animals like rabbits and birds. When these individuals or families own their own homes, the only factor in deciding on a pet is personal preference. However, for renters, pet ownership can be much more complicated and expensive. Some landlords may welcome pets with open arms while others charge various fees. If you are a renter in California and you own pets, you should get to know the law regarding so called “pet deposits,” “pet fees,” and “pet rent” before you sign a lease.

Can Landlords Charge Extra for Pets?

Yes, landlords have the power to charge extra for pets. However, the way in which they can do so is regulated by California law. They cannot charge pet deposits and additional pet rent however they like. If you are required to pay extra money up front to have a pet in your rental unit, then this money is regulated the same way as your typical security deposit.

scott-webb-386701-copy-202x300Most residential leases are for a period of one year. Typically, the lease starts on the first of a month, and you are entitled to live in the unit at that price for the next 12 months. However, a lot can happen during that year. You may get a new job in another state, suffer a medical emergency, become pregnant, or for any number of reasons need to move. If you cannot stay in your apartment until the end of your lease, then you will have to move out early. This is known as breaking your lease and amounts to a breach of contract. You can do it, but there will be consequences.


When it comes to breaking a lease, you should understand your rights to ensure your landlord does not try and take advantage of the situation. If you believe your landlord is treating you unfairly or unlawfully during this situation, contact a San Francisco tenants’ rights attorney right away.


Breaking a Lease

antonina-bukowska-142087-copy-300x200There are certain rights you take for granted until someone else violates them. One of these is your right to privacy. As an individual, you are entitled to privacy from others. This is a social norm. As a resident of the U.S., you are entitled to a great deal of privacy from law enforcement and the government. As a tenant, you have the right to privacy from your landlord. When you are within your unit, you have a right to decide who comes and goes, who knows what is going on inside, and so forth, with only a few exceptions. Your landlord may have the right to come into your apartment and inspect the premises, but only in a certain way and at certain times.

If your landlord is constantly stopping by or letting him or herself into your unit without your permission or appropriate notice, call our California tenant rights attorneys at Brod Law Firm right away.

Your Right to Privacy in Your Rental Unit

joshua-newton-13935-copy-300x200Apartment buildings or rental houses and condos are typically investment properties for the landlords. As with any investment, there may come a time when it is better for the landlord to sell than to hold on to it. This means that one day, you may receive a letter notifying you that your building or home has been sold and you have a new landlord. This poses a number of questions, one of the most common being: What happens when someone buys your apartment?

Tenant Rights When the Rental Property is Sold

The most important thing to know when your apartment building, single-family house, or condo is sold is that the new owner is legally required to honor your lease. If you have a typically one-year lease, you have the right to carry it out and continue living there. The new landlord cannot evict you simply because of the change of ownership.

milind-kaduskar-87650-copy-300x300Before February 2016, Danielle Phillips and Paul Kelly rented a two-bedroom house near the beach, paying $1,900 in monthly rent. Then, that February, Phillips and Kelly came home to a notice from their new landlord, Matthew Dirkes, who was raising the monthly rent to $6,700. This was not only more than three-times the previous rent, it was also far above median rents for single-family homes in the area, San Francisco Magazine found and reported.

Phillips and Kelly knew what was happening. They were being evicted under the premise of a lawful rent hike, so they sued. The trial court sided with the landlord but now the couple are appealing to California’s First District Court of Appeals. The appellate court’s decision could have a significant impact of tenants’ rights and protections within the region.

Phillips and Kelly Had Few Legal Options

erol-ahmed-48243-copy-300x200In August, 2017, the Pasadena City Council approved the final draft of the revised Tenant Protection Ordinance. The new changes clarify when displaced tenants are eligible for moving and relocation financial assistance.

When and whether landlords need to pay displaced tenants for their troubles has become a significant issue throughout California as evictions continue to rise. If you have been evicted from your unit without having done anything wrong and now you are having trouble finding a new place to live, look into your rights. In certain circumstances, your landlord may owe you money for the cost of moving and relocating. Contact an experienced tenants’ rights attorney from Brod Law Firm to learn more.

Pasadena’s Updated Tenant Protection Ordinance