REPAIRS AND HABITABILITY
A rental unit must be fit to live in; that is, it must be habitable. In legal terms, "habitable" means that the rental unit is fit for occupation by human beings and that it substantially complies with state and local building and health codes that materially affect tenants' health and safety.129
California law makes landlords and tenants each responsible for certain kinds of repairs, although landlords ultimately are legally responsible for assuring that their rental units are habitable.
Landlord's responsibility for repairs
Before renting a rental unit to a tenant, a landlord must make the unit fit to live in, or habitable. Additionally, while the unit is being rented, the landlord must repair problems that make the rental unit unfit to live in, or uninhabitable.
The landlord has this duty to repair because of a California Supreme Court case, called Green v. Superior Court,130 which held that all residential leases and rental agreements contain an implied warranty of habitability. Under the "implied warranty of habitability," the landlord is legally responsible for repairing conditions that seriously affect the rental unit's habitability.131 That is, the landlord must repair substantial defects in the rental unit and substantial failures to comply with state and local building and health codes.132 However, the landlord is not responsible under the implied warranty of habitability for repairing damages that were caused by the tenant or the tenant's family, guests, or pets.133
Generally, the landlord also must do maintenance work which is necessary to keep the rental unit liveable.134 Whether the landlord or the tenant is responsible for making less serious repairs is usually determined by the rental agreement.
The law is very specific as to what kinds of conditions make a rental uninhabitable.