What qualifies as uninhabitable conditions?

There is no GFI in the vicinity of the kitchen sink and bathroom, bad electrical outlet in my room, the oven produces smoke and is unusable, uneven flooring (low severity but there is noticeable cracking), no screen door on the exterior door, and no access to the locked mailbox (the landlord whom is also a roommate refuses to allow other house members access to the mailbox).Are these valid defenses against an unlawful detainer action?

Asked on November 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The only condition which you describe which *might* be a defense woudl be the nonfunctional oven, and even that one is on the edge. To be uninhabitable, the premises must literally be uninhabitable--that is, they must not be safely usuable as a residence. The other conditions you describe--some bad electrical outlets, uneven flooring, lack of a screen door, no access to a mailbox--are annoying and inconvenient, but do not make it unsafe to reside in that premises and therefore do not make the premises unfit as a residence. Since residences generally have a working stove in this country, the lack of one *might* render the place uninhabitable--though more likely, it would just entitle you to compensation for the inconvenience (and cost of take in), since people can safely live without a stove.

Furthermore, any conditions which were evident when you leased the premises--like uneven floolring--but which did not prevent you from leasing, would not be ones for which you could even recover any money or receive some rent abatement or offset; conditions that arose later, after leasing, but were not corrected *might* entitle you to some commpensation.


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