Repairs and The Warranty of Habitability

The Warranty of Habitability in Californian residential leases to be in a “habitable” condition, meaning that the rentals fit for people to live inland that it substantially complies with state and local building and health codes. Repairs and regular maintenance work are a part of the warranty of habitability to ensure that the rental property is “livable.” However, repairs could be the responsibility of the landlord OR tenant, depending on the lease agreement. Under California law, landlords and tenants are each responsible for certain repairs,but ultimately landlords are responsible for ensuring that the rental property is habitable according to law.


  • Landlords are legally responsible for repairing conditions that seriously affect habitability. Specifically, the landlord must repair substantial defects in the rental property and other violations of state and local building and health codes. However, landlords are not responsible for repairing damages caused by the tenant or the tenant’s family,guests, or pets.
  • Tenants are required by law to take reasonable care of their rental properties, including common areas such as hallways and outside areas.Tenants must keep those areas clean and undamaged. Tenants are also responsible for repair of all damage that results from their neglect or abuse, and for repair of damage caused by anyone that they are responsible for,such as family, guests, or pets.

Examples of conditions that are necessary for a rental property to be habitable:

  • Proper waterproofing and weather protection(of the roof and exterior walls)
  • Plumbing facilities in good working condition
    • Hot and cold running water
    • Connection to a sewage disposal system
    • A working toilet, sink, and bathtub/shower (must be in a room that is ventilated and allows privacy)
    • A kitchen with a sink (not made of an absorbent material such as wood)
  • Heating sources and gas facilities in good working condition
  • Electricity system, such as lighting and wiring, in good working condition
  • Clean, sanitary, and well-lit building and grounds
  • Adequate trash receptacles in good condition
  • Floors, stairways, and railings in good condition
  • Property free of infestation of insects, rodents, and vermin (including bed bugs)
  • A rental property that is free of lead paint and mold that may affect the livability of the unit or the health and safety of the tenants
  • Natural lighting in every room through windows or skylights. Windows in each room must be able to open at least halfway,
  • Safe fire or emergency exits leading to a street or hallway. Stairs, hallways, and exits must be kept litter-free.
  • Working smoke detectors in all units of multi-unit buildings. Apartment complexes must also have smoke detectors in common areas.
  • Working locks on the main entry door of rental, and a working locker security device on the windows.
  • A locking mailbox for each rental property consistent with the United States Postal Service standards.

Tenants must do all of the following

  • Keep the premises “as clean and sanitary as the condition of the premises permits.”
  • Use and operate gas, electrical, and plumbing fixtures properly
  • Dispose of trash and garbage in a clean and sanitary manner.
  • Not destroy, damage, or deface the premises,or allow anyone else to do so.
  • Not remove any part of the structure, dwelling unit, facilities, equipment, or appurtenances,or allow anyone else to do so.
  • Use the premises as a place to live, and use the rooms for their intended purposes. For example, the bedroom must be used as a bedroom, and not as a kitchen.148
  • Notify the landlord when dead bolt locks and window locks or security devices don’t operate properly