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legalgems, Arbitrator
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 7123
Experience:  Just Answer consultant at Self employed
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I live in CA. We just moved into a new house last week.

Customer Question

I live in CA. We just moved into a new house last week. Signed a lease and paid for 2 months and deposit. We found out that the house was a drug growing house for 8 years prior to us moving in. There is faulty everything! Plugs, fridge, crap match work. The landlord hasn't done anything with the back yard which caught fire the other day due to a neighbor shooting a bottle rocket! Is there any way out of this lease? Specially with them not saying anything about the drug house. All the patch work makes me wonder how safe this property is! I have a two year old, a child on the way and a disabled father loving with me and my husband. I am scared for our safety. We have lost tons of food b.c the fridge stopped working (the gfi plug keeps kicking it off), now the deep freezer we brought had the same problem because of another damn GFI plug. You turn the light off in our bedroom and it flickers on and off (very dim) but for hours! Please help!
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  legalgems replied 3 months ago.

How long is the lease for? Is there a security deposit? Is the house rented by the owner or a property manager?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
The lease is a one year lease! �� There is a security deposit and 2 months rent that's already been paid! The house is rented by the property owners, no property manager.
Expert:  legalgems replied 3 months ago.

Thank you;

Fortunately CA is very tenant friendly, and they have a couple of implied covenants that go with every lease - these CANNOT be waived in the lease.

1. Implied warranty of habitability:

Civil Code 1941.1 -

2. implied warranty of quiet enjoyment CC 1927:

So basically if the home is in such a condition that it is not safe, is not clean, or is not in a condition such that the tenant can have quiet enjoyment of the property, then it constitutes a "constructive eviction".

If the landlord is in breach of these covenants, the tenant is constructively evicted and may remain in possession and stop rental payments in proportion to the impairment of use and enjoyment of the premises.If the tenant is actually or constructively evicted from the premises as a result of events not caused by the tenant, such as partial condemnation or lack of access to the premises the tenant’s rental obligations terminate if (and only if) the tenant vacates the premises - it is similar to a breach; since the landlord breached his part of the contract, the tenant need perform theirs.

In order to help avoid any liability (ie one needs adequate proof that the unit is uninhabitable) it is best to take pictures, have witnesses, etc. Another good thing that can really help is to call the local health inspector, or for criminal events, the local police department, so the incident is document.

Here is general information for future reference

Further questions? Please post here to continue the chat. Satisfied? Kindly rate positively so I receive credit for assisting you.(no additional charges are incurred). Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
The house "looks" clean. They did work to it to get it cleaned up. But they never said it was a drug house (I wouldn't have rented had I known). It's just the plugs, the shower they told us wasn't working after we signed a lease! It's the patch work and light, makes me think there is faulty electrical! They want to have people come out and fix it, not me. I know an electrician can I have him check it without their permission?
Expert:  legalgems replied 3 months ago.

Nonworking electrical that is ongoing that causes major appliances to fail is typically a habitability issue; also the lighting and the shower is expected to work.

If the landlord is willing to "cure" the defect promptly then one can agree to that; while the tenant is in possession of the unit they can have anyone over (at their own expense) and that can actually help prove habitability issues if it is disputed.

As for drug houses, if one can establish it was a drug house then that can be grounds based on one (or both) of the following:

1. certain drugs (ie meth) require proper cleaning by professionals to prevent health issues, so if remedial work has not been done, and their is a presence of the toxins (in the paint, carpet etc) then that would be inhabitable

2. if the house is known as a "drug house" so that it puts the family in danger (ie in case third parties are not aware they moved out so undesirables stop by to buy drugs) then one could argue that the landlord failed to disclose that and it was a material misrepresentation.

Expert:  legalgems replied 3 months ago.

Checking in on the above. Thank you for using Just Answer!

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