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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10215
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing both landlords and tenants in residential and commercial property disputes.
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I have lived in the same Oakland apartment for 30 + years.

Customer Question

I have lived in the same Oakland apartment for 30 + years.
Other than one coat over some severe water damage in the living room/hall 16 years ago, the landlord has never painted.
The hardwood floors haven't been cared for in more than 40 years that I know of.
Outside windows never cleaned...
I am fortunate to be under rent control and many of the units are paying more than 2.5 times my rent. It seems apparent, they aren't eager to 'improve' the unit and would instead prefer to wait until I leave.
I am a senior with very limited income and cannot afford to update the apartment for them.
It is my understanding that the owners are responsible for maintaining their property and painting every 5 years...
What can you tell me to support my request to them?
Thanks very much!
Submitted: 28 days ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 28 days ago.

Hello, My name is ***** ***** I will assist you today. Please give me a few minutes to write a response and identify any additional resources for you.

Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 28 days ago.

Dear Customer,

I am sorry to learn of this situation and the lack of upkeep by your landlord.

Unfortunately, the issues that you have identified deal more with the quality of the unit as opposed to habitability or safety of the property.

A landlord's duty to maintain a habitable property (running water, hot water, no leaks in the exterior envelope (roof, windows, doors, floor, etc.), no infestation, working heat), is something that is much more easily enforced - see:

Repair and upkeep of other things (paint, flooring, working cabinets, cleaning exterior windows, etc.) are dealt with through "breach of contract" law - meaning you can sue the landlord in small claims court to require them to repair the unit to the same condition or better than when you rented it (the landlord has an obligation to keep the unit in the same repair as it was at the time it was rented). This places all of the burden on you as a tenant to bring such a suit, but the California Courts have a very helpful self help website that walks you through the process and has all of the forms you require:

Short of filing a lawsuit, you can try to mediate the dispute with them - contact your local bar association and request referrals to mediators, a third party neutral can often help you reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Use the bar association's referrals to contact a mediator or two, the mediator will then contact the other party to set up a mediation session, and you can go from there - hopefully resulting in a formal or written settlement agreement, and save yourself the time and expense of litigation.

There are many mediation services and tenant's rights/unions in Oakland and San Francisco that can assist you.

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