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Marc
Marc, Attorney at Law
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 174
Experience:  Experienced Attorney
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I'm having problems with pest like bedbugs/roaches the

Customer Question

I'm having problems with pest like bedbugs/roaches the landlord hasn't treated n says they spray outside which I haven't seen any1 spray at all I've had this problem for 2/3 yrs I've been treating this situation on my own with sprays n powders. I have been telling the property manager n they didn't take action now they hired a new property n I'm not getting anywhere also the air conditioning has been broken since last summer landlord temped to fix it on his own but gave up. I'm disabled n on SSI n I need the air conditioning. The roaches r so bad I found one n my ear also my son's experienced the same there so bad that there getting n my fridge n my food it's so embarrassing I don't want to have company I even explained that the holidays r coming n I can't invite family n friends or even cook, I have had to go to motels just to relax from being attacked when we sleep I could b sitting n the cock roaches will crawl on our legs. I wanted to hold back on the rent but I'm scared of being evicted. I haven't paid my rent this month n the landlord served me a "3 day or quit notice" I have the money but I don't know how to handle this situation please help me I'm tired n because I can't afford to go anywhere else I don't know what to do anymore at this point thank u
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Marc replied 2 months ago.

Dear *****,

My name is*****'m a licensed attorney and I will be happy to assist you.

The conditions you describe are deplorable! First of all: pay your rent for this month immediately (just to relieve you of the 3-day notice pressure). Then you can take action as I discuss below.

In California, all landlords are legally required to provide livable or habitable premises and to maintain it in that condition throughout the rental term. According to CA law (Civil Code § 1941.1 and § 1941.3), at minimum every rental must have, among other things, a clean and sanitary premises and grounds that is free of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.

In your case, your landlord is clearly violating not only this law, but also the terms of your lease, probably. Moreover, he is violating an implied warranty of habitability. In short: you landlord is breaking the law and has breached the terms of your lease.

So, what are your options? First, start keeping a written record of every maintenance and repair request to your landlord. Keep a log of every phone call or meeting. I can’t tell from your narrative if you’ve already written to your landlord. If you haven’t already, write to him now specifically describing the problem, its effect on you, what you want done, and when. For example: “My home is infested with roaches and other vermin. I have made several requests to you to remedy this problem, but nothing has been done. This problem is affecting my health and that of my son. I cannot live here under these conditions. You must do whatever is necessary to remedy this problem.”

Also, keep any evidence of the problem, such as photos of the conditions. You may need all this if your landlord tries again to evict you for nonpayment of rent.

If your persistent and businesslike requests for repairs are ignored, you have several options, of which the most effective include rent withholding and “repair and deduct.” I’ll discuss each:

Rent withholding basically means that you stop paying rent to the landlord until the repairs are made. Before doing so, you need to make sure you meet the following prerequisites:

It’s a serious repair or habitability problem, not just annoying. There must be a true habitability problem that imperils your health or safety. The kind of infestation you described certainly presents a habitability problem.

The problem must not be something that you or a guest caused, either deliberately or through carelessness or neglect.

As described above, tell the landlord in writing about the problem and gave him a reasonable opportunity to fix it. Set a reasonable deadline and let the landlord know you intend to withhold rent if the problem is not resolved. California law gives landlords 30 days to fix habitability problems, less if the circumstances warrant prompter attention. In your case, you should set a deadline of only one week.

Then, starting with December, you should withhold a reasonable amount of rent, relative to the problem. Unless you’ve had to move out because of an unfit rental, you are not entitled to stop paying rent entirely. You must pay the landlord the reasonable value of the rental in its unfit state or deduct rent based on the value of the part of the unit affected by the defect.

Now, another powerful legal remedy under state law (Civil Code § 1941.1-1942.5) for getting a landlord to remedy your problem is called “repair and deduct.” It works like this: If you have tried and failed to get your landlord to fix a serious problem that makes your rental unit unfit, you can pay to remedy it yourself and subtract the cost from the following month’s rent. Certain conditions apply:

· You can’t spend more than one month’s rent.

· You can’t use the repair and deduct remedy more than twice in any 12-month period.

· You can’t have caused the problem, and it can’t be something that is your responsibility (such as taking out the garbage).

As with rent withholding, notify the landlord first and give him a reasonable amount of time to fix the problem before make repairs. Also, keep bills (including exterminators and hotels).

Barbara – you should not have to endure such conditions. Take action now!

I hope I’ve explained your issues and options well enough. If so, please be sure to rate my answer, since that is the only way I can receive credit.

Good luck!

Marc