Class Action Settlement Protects Sacramento Tenants

At The Brod Law Firm, our Sacramento tenant’s rights lawyer is committed to ensuring that landlords and rental companies maintain their properties in livable conditions. There is often strength in numbers and sometimes a class action is a useful tool for protecting tenants. While every renter is entitled to a habitable unit, operating as a class can give added force to individual claims and ensure the landlord is forced to make real, effective change.

Settlement for Tenants of Uninhabitable Property in Rancho Cordova
A group of tenants in Rancho Cordova banded together to form a class and the Sacramento Bee recently reported on their success. Residents of Cordova Estates, a forty unit apartment property on Croetta Way, faced unacceptable living conditions. Cockroaches and bedbugs infested the complex, roofs leaked, balcony floor failed, heat was inadequate and mold was a recurrent problem. These and other conditions made life miserable and caused numerous health ailments, even leading to a child developing a staph infection.

Unwilling to tolerate the conditions any longer, Jessica Rubio Munoz considered moving out last year. Instead, she helped fight for the Cordova Estates residents as the lead plaintiff in the tenants’ class action. The class filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court last December and both sides agreed to a settlement last months. Ninety-nine class members will share in a one million dollar settlement funded by three insurance companies on behalf of the now-former owners of the property. Adult class members will receive just under $8,000 in damages and children will be paid $3,500 compensation. Munoz notes the money can never fully compensate for the health ailments she and her children suffered due to the poor conditions.

Since the case began, the property went into receivership, leading to foreclosure and the sale of the property to a new buyer with a reputation for successfully helping turn around distressed properties. The company renamed the complex Puerta Villa and the renovated property now includes ninety-three units. Rancho Cordova Mayor David Sander told reporters that the city is working to clean up problem apartment complexes, many of which were handed over by the county when the city was formed in 2003. He adds that aggressive inspections have led to eleven different properties being revamped. These efforts can also help lower crime rates which are high around old properties and improve overall quality of life.

California Tenants’ Rights & The Implied Warranty of Habitability
The California Department of Consumer Affairs publishes A Guide Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities number of landlord-tenant laws and regulations. Among the principles covered in the guide is the implied warrant of habitability meaning. Under this doctrine of California law, a landlord/owner must maintain all rental units in a manner suitable for occupation by humans. Units must also substantially conform to code provisions that substantially impact residents’ health and safety. The law may deem a unit uninhabitable if a hazard in the unit endangers occupants or other members of the public. Among other factors, a unit may be considered unlivable if it lacks effective weather protection, working plumbing that includes both hot and cold running water, heating, electricity, or sufficient trash receptacles. Units must also contain working bathroom facilities, a kitchen, safe exits, and operable locks. Newer provisions also make mold infestations that impact resident health a violation and add additional obligations when an owner knows a property is contaminated by methamphetamine. The warranty doesn’t mean a unit must be perfect, but it must be fit for occupation.

Whether it is a class action or individual lawsuit, the Brod Law Firm is ready and able to protect the rights of tenants in Sacramento and throughout Northern California. Call if we can help you.

See Related Blog Posts:
Disturbing Violations by San Francisco Apartment Management Company
An Introduction To Class Actions

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