Is it the landlord’s responsibility to provide code-compliant electrical systems?

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Is it the landlord’s responsibility to provide code-compliant electrical systems?

A lease has been signed but power cannot be turned on by the utility because of wiring issues. Who has the primary responsibility for resolving this issue, especially because it existed prior to lease commencement?

Asked on October 27, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In a residential lease, a landlord is required to provide a premises that meets all health and safety codes. To do otherwise violates what is known as "the implied warranty of habitability". Typically, for such a breach a tenant may repair and deduct the cost for their rent; they may withhold their rent; or they can break their lease and move-out. However, this is a simplification of a tenant's remedies. To do any of the foregoing there are legal requirements that must be met before a tenant should attempt anything. Your best bet is to speak with a tenant's rights attorney or a tenant's association in your area.  In the meantime here is a link to a site that you may find to be of help: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/repairs.shtml

In a commercial lease, when it comes to whether an implied warranty of habitability applies, the law varies from state-to-state. Bottom line, some jurisdictions do not extend the warranty in a commercial setting. Also, even when the warranty is implied in commercial leases, just what remedies are available to a tenant for such a breach are determined on a case-by-case basis. Bottom line, in a commercial lease a landlord has less responsibilities and the tenant has more. Again, consulting directly with a real estate attorney in your locality is advised.


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