Wht to do if I’m renting a home that is shifting and causing the floor to raise up under the carpet?

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Wht to do if I’m renting a home that is shifting and causing the floor to raise up under the carpet?

My landlord claims that it is due to over-shampooing of the carpets. I pointed out to him that it is also happening in the dining room under the linoleum. My uptairs bathroom is starting to cave into my garage and looks like it will fall threw if someone to heavy goes into the bathroom. All the doors are shifting (home on the slant of a Gil) and causing gaps under the doors where cold air comes in. The doors also will not stay shut. The downstairs heater has been broken for months and he will not fix it because it needs to be completely replaced and he won’t pay. A front window was broken over a month ago, due to vandalism and he has not fixed that.

Asked on January 10, 2013 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Every tenant has an implied warranty of habitability.  Considering that it sounds like this house is about to fall down, you certainly have been the victim of a breach of this warranty.  In California, you do have the right to do what is called "repair and deduct."  This is where you give the landlord written notice of the repairs that need to be made.  If he fails to make those repairs, you can pay to have them done and then deduct those expenses from your next month's rent.  California also has a good site through the Department of Consumer Affairs that gives you detailed instructions on how to utilize this process.  Here is the link to their site:  http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/repairs.shtml .

If the damages are such that you cannot repair them with a month's rent, you also have the right to abandon or vacate the property. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

At least  some of what you describe could be violations of the implied warranty of habitability. All rental units come with this warranty: it requires that the unit be fit for its intended purpose, or inhabitation. Exterior doors that would not shut could violate this warranty, due to safety and temperature concerns; internal doors would not. A broken window can violate it, again due to safety and temperature concerns; a broken heater can violate it, again because of temperature. Caving-in floors, if they get to the point that they actually pose a safety hazard, can likewise violate this warranty.

If the warranty is violated, it can potentially provide grounds to seek monetary compensation; to withhold rent until repairs are made; and/or to terminate the lease early without penalty. From what you write, it seems as if it would be well-worthwhile for you to consult with a landlord-tenant attorney about this situation.


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