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My landlord is a "slumlord"! Are my tenant right being violated?

1 Answers. Asked on Jul 13th, 2013 on Landlord and Tenant Law - California
More details to this question:
three of us moved into a house in Aug 2012 and signed a 1 year lease. Roommate #1 stopped paying his part of the rent 3 months into the lease. Landlord asked him to move out and his last day was jan 31 2013. LL offered to rent the house out to me and roommate #2 for a lesser price and instead of paying monthly we were now going to pay weekly. March 2013 LL emailed me new applications to rent and in the email said we would meet later that week to sign a new lease. I returned the applications and she was busy so we never got a change to sign a new lease. we complained about plumbing since jan 2013 (roots). we payed a plumber to come clear drains and so i have receipt to prove this prblm exists. she said no funds to fix it and demanded rent. we stopped paying may 2013. we cannot use any wayer bc sewer backs up into tub and toilet dsnt flush. GROSS! she is suing me, RM ! and RM2. but RM 2 moved out and that lease is over right? is she able to do this?
Answers Showing 1 out of 1
Answered on Aug 12th, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Under California law, you aren't really allowed to simply stop paying rent because of a defect with the property you are renting. You potentially have the remedy of "repair and deduct" in which you would pay to have the problem fixed, after several written notifications to the landlord, then deduct the cost of the repair from your rent. The procedure for doing so is very specific and you have to give the landlord written notice and an opportunity to cure. You must follow the strict letter of this law, or you can be evicted for failing to pay rent. The California Department of Consumer Affairs has a pretty good article on their website describing how to avail yourself of this remedy. It is only available where the defect with the property affects its habitability. Sewage backing up into the home is generally considered a valid basis for taking advantage of the repair and deduct procedure. You may be able to defend the failure to pay rent on the grounds that the property is inhabiltable due to the sewer issue, but that is at the judge's discretion. 

David L. Gibbs, Esq.
The Gibbs Law Firm, APC
San Clemente, California

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Landlord and Tenant Law
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