Home > Resources > Habitability
Habitability & Repairs
California law requires a landlord to provide a safe and inhabitable premises. This includes an obligation to provide tenants with:
- adequate heat
- waterproofing and weather protection
- working locks on the doors, windows and mailbox
- hot and cold running water
- electrical wiring / lighting installed and maintained
- Floors/stairs/railings in good repair
- plumbing and gas in good working order
The law also requires a landlord to provide and maintain a property free from mold/mildew, water intrusion, vermin (e.g. bedbugs, rodents, roaches), lead, and accumulated rubbish/debris. Failure to provide these requirements could lead to penalties from the local government (city/county), and/or subject them to liability in the form of a lawsuit.
Tenants dealing with substandard conditions should notify their landlord of the condition and request repairs in writing immediately in order to create a record. Should the matter escalate and lead to legal action you will need to be able to show that your landlord knew or should have known that a problem existed and they failed to fix it. Taking photographs of the problems and/or otherwise documenting it for your file can also be useful.
Department of Building Inspection (DBI) / Department of Public Health (DPH)
If you are dealing with ongoing habitability defects that your landlord is refusing to resolve it might make sense to contact DBI or DPH to report the problem. These city agencies exist to investigate and enforce habitability requirements. In San Francisco you can file a complaint with these agencies online. An inspector will then arrange a time with you to inspect the premises. If the inspector finds defective conditions they will issue a report and what's known as a Notice of Violation to your landlord. This creates additional supporting documentation of the situation. If your landlord refuses or fails to fix the issue the City/ County can issue fines.
If your landlord still refuses to fix the existing issue it may be time to contact an attorney to discuss your options.