What are a tenant’s rights regarding their not being able to use a patio?

I rent an apartment and it has a patio. About 6 month ago the upstairs balcony partially collapsed dropping one side about 6 inches. The complex put caution tape in front of my sliding door and braced the balcony. After speaking to the manager a few times, I sent a certified letter complaining about not being able to use the patio. Now they write back saying I could have used the patio all along saying she told me it was safe 5 months ago. They are offering me $200 as a customer service gesture. The caution tape is still there lying on the patio as I never removed it and neither did they. There is still debris from the balcony left on the patio. They are saying there is no update as to when this will be fixed. I feel I will have to move and wonder if there is anything I can do. I also feel unsafe going out on the patio even though they say it is safe.

Asked on July 23, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I would just take the $200, find a new apartment and move on.  That said, you signed a lease for an entire apartment, including the patio.  When a landlord interferes with your reasonable use and enjoyment of the property or a portion of it, by failing to make normal repairs, you can sometimes sue for what is called constructive ouster.  They would have to have been on notice of the condition.  You would be entitled to the patio square footage/total square footage x rent x months.  It would cost money to sue, even if you sued on your own in small claims and there would be no guarantees. 


I would ask for the $200 and to be released from any remaining term on the lease and avoid having to sue.

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