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Understanding the Duties of a Bay Area Landlord

Residential landlords are businesses or individual property owners that rent out houses, condos, or apartments in exchange of money. When a residential landlord in San Francisco, Oakland or Berkeley rents out their property to a tenant, it is essential for the rented space to be habitable, or in other words, fit to live in. During the tenure, the landlord is required to take care of maintenance work and carry out repairs whenever necessary to ensure the rented property remains habitable.

The legal duties of both landlord and tenant are generally laid out in residential leases. Whether or not the landlord and tenant make a written agreement (or have an oral rental agreement), the obligation to carry out these duties remain in place as they are enforced by California tenancy laws.

Duties of a Landlord in San Francisco

A property is considered untenantable if it lacks any of the following standard characteristics and is a residential unit as elucidated in California Civil Code section 1941.

  • Gas facilities should be in good working order.
  • Effective weather protection and waterproofing of exterior walls and roof, including unbroken doors and windows.
  • Heating facilities should be in good working order
  • Plumbing facilities should be in good working order, such as having cold and hot running water and proper connection to a sewage disposal system.
  • Proper trash receptacles in good repair.
  • Clean and sanitary appurtenances, grounds, and building
  • A proper electrical system, including equipment, wiring, and lighting, in good working order.
  • Railings, stairways, and floors in good repair.
  • Each residential unit should have a locking mail receptacle, as required by California’s Health and Safety Code.

In addition to the above, the following must be available in the rented property:

  • A kitchen with a sink that should not be made of an absorbent material.
  • A wash basin, working toilet, and shower or bathtub. These must be in a room that allows for privacy and is ventilated.
  • Emergency exits leading to a hallway or street. Stairs, exits, and hallways should be litter free, and basements, garages, and storage areas are required to be kept free of combustible materials.
  • Working smoke detectors in all residential units and common stairwells.

These are just minimum requirements, and there may be other conditions that may render a rented property inhabitable. For example, if the residential unit does not comply with the safety guidelines of building and housing standards that may affect the health and safety of tenants.

California has some of the most strict tenancy laws in the entire country. Both tenants and landlords have been given certain duties and responsibilities that are enforced by state law, even if there is no written residential lease in place to define them. Local Bay Area rent ordinances in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland impose additional obligations on landlords and provide for civil statutory damages when landlords do not live up to their obligations to tenants. As a tenant paying high rent in the Bay Area it is important to know the legal rights you have by paying rent.

If you want to get more information regarding the legal obligations of a landlord in tenancy related matters, please contact Bracamontes & Vlasak today at 415.835.6777 to schedule a free consultation.

Tenant Law Attorney