What is the “implied warranty of habitability” and what does it mean to the landlord and tenant? – San Diego Landlord-Tenant Attorney

The “implied warrant of habitability” is the legal right that every landlord has to provide to the tenant a rental property that is fit and habitable and to maintain it in that condition throughout the rental term.  This means the landlord must insure the rental property the tenant is living in has basic living necessities such as proper protection against weather conditions, hot and cold running water, proper plumbing, heating, lighting, clean living areas, appropriate receptacles for garbage and rubbish, properly maintained stairways and railings, properly working locks on certain doors and windows, and no lead paint hazards ( California Civil Code §1941.1 and §1941.3). 

If the landlord does not provide these basic living necessities, the tenant generally has four options. The tenant can withhold rent from the landlord till the problem is remedied, repair the problem themselves and deduct the cost from the rent, sue the landlord, or move out without notice.

However, the tenant also has a duty to the landlord.  The tenant also has to maintain basic repair and maintenance of the rental property and failure to do so means the tenant cannot exercise those options listed above.  For example, the tenant cannot withhold rent from the landlord for improper plumbing if it was the tenant’s actions that caused the improper plumbing in the first place.

The reason why the “implied warrant of habitability” is important is the role it can play in the eviction process. For example, tenants can claim that the landlord has violated the “implied warrant of habitability” as a way to deduct the rent owed against the evicting landlord. The landlord can, however, argue that the premise was fit and habitable and that the tenant’s “implied warrant of habitability” defense was improper and should not be sustained. In either case, the “implied warrant of habitability” is something, both landlord and tenant, needs to be aware of in the litigation process.

For more information on how to exercise the “implied warrant of habitability” defense or how to defend against it, please contact us at info@thevclawgroup.com or 858.519.7333.