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New Tenant with Mold/Construction Issues and Inconveniences Repairs, Maintenance

Discussion in 'Living in, Use of the Premises' started by collin45, Oct 17, 2013.

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  1. collin45

    collin45 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I live in southern california, and just recently moved into a rental home. The upstairs bathroom had a leak in the toilet (wax ring) that was not our fault, and it caused a serious issue. Before we knew there was a major problem, we noticed what appeared to be water damage on the wall and contacted the landlord. She came out and said it was fixed, and we thought it was handled. A few weeks later, a mushroom grew out of the wall telling me the issue hand not in fact been taken care of. Five plumbers and one home inspector later, we discovered there was a major leak in toilet upstairs, which had saturated the walls in the bathroom/garage down below on the first floor. There were 100% moisture readings, waist high up the walls. Mold developed and I was concerned that could cause health problems for the family, so we stayed with friends for a few days while remediation was done. Mind you, this was about a month after notifying the landlord of the initial problem.

    We were only out of the home for 5 days, but I would like to know if I can deduct that money from next months rent. Afterall, we werent living there and it was not our fault we had to be out, so why should I have to pay for that time?

    Also, we rented a 3 br/2.5 bath home with a garage and as a result of this damage we are down to a 3 br/1 bath home and the garage is off limits. The remediation was done but the dry wall is not up, the toilets/shower are both not functioning... The landlord has been dragging her feet on getting the work done and I have been living this way now for a few weeks. I expect to get what I pay for and dont feel like that is what I am getting at this point. Legally can I deduct a certain percentage of my rent, until these issues are resolved?

    I know these issues are difficult to assess, so any advice or resorces to check out would be appreciated, if there is no clear cut answer to my questions. Problems arise and things happen, and I get that. I am not trying to rip anyone off here but I do feel that I am being taken advantage of and put through a lot, through no fault of my own, and I would like to know my options/rights.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Be very careful when you decide to embark on the path of withholding rent due to your landlord.

    I suggest you start a discussion with your landlord about things that disturb or alarm you.

    Document those conversations, but avoid withholding rent, it can be very risky.


    http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/repairs.shtml


    http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/california-tenant-rights-withhold-rent-repair-deduct.html


    http://www.caltenantlaw.com/Habitability.htm



    http://www.retodayradio.com/RR-97-02-16.htm



    http://www.hrcsf.org/repairs_implied.html
     
  3. fredrikklaw

    fredrikklaw Moderator

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    You have two options!

    COLLIN45…

    Of course you can!

    But let’s call it by its proper label which is “rent adjustment” and not a “deduction,” and you will have to do it right away and without further delay or you will be deemed to have given implied consent to the interruptions caused by the lengthy repair works.

    So, first and foremost, put the landlady on a proper and advance notice of your intention to adjust the rent. You do this by sending her a formal letter which will show what the adjusted rent payment is going to be until such time that the rental unit is restored to be in compliance with the terms of the lease. You should make it as clear as possible how you arrived at the adjustment by spelling out the days you were forced out of the house so that the repairs could proceed as well as accounting for the past and the continuing loss of the 1.5 bathrooms during the repairs. You can also adjust for any expenses you incurred during the 5 days you were out of the rental property.

    This is quite a reasonable and legitimate remedy in such situations and she (the landlady) cannot cite you for non-payment of rent and use it as an excuse to evict you, in which case you will have a bona fide cause of action against her for ‘Retaliatory Eviction.’

    Also keep in mind another option that is also available to you under the prevailing Landlord-Tenant Laws which allows you to withhold payment of rent completely and this is how it works:

    Even though it is not written, the law nonetheless reads into every lease agreement as protection for the tenants an Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment and an Implied Warranty of Habitability, and the breach of any of them (or both of them) by the landlord is considered to cause a Constructive Eviction. In such a case, the tenant can withhold 100% of the rent and notify the landlord of his intention to vacate the property ASAP, and /or within a reasonable time frame; considered to be 60 to 90 days.

    But from the facts given in your post, I can see open to you the option of rent adjustment because the repairs do not rise to the level that makes the premises uninhabitable.

    Well, not yet any way!

    fredrikklaw
     
  4. collin45

    collin45 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you both for the information. I think I will inform her that we were forced to stay with friends for the days that the remediation was being done and let her know that money will be deducted from next months rent. The more I think about it, I dont think it is necessarty to try to deduct for the bathrooms/garage under construction, I can deal with this inconvenience. They will be fixed soon enough (hopefully!!!). I appreciate the help guys!!!
     

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