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MDLawyer, Lawyer
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 6133
Experience:  10 years in legal practice. Over 5 years in advising clients on landlord/tenant issues, including on a pro bono basis.
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I live in San Francisco in a rent-controlled apartment, no

Customer Question

I live in San Francisco in a rent-controlled apartment, no longer under a lease. I try to stay on the landlord's good side because I cannot afford to move out.
The problem right now is that I am dealing with cancer treatments that leave me exhausted. But the door phone system has been down for weeks (so I cannot get deliveries or let people in without going down to them) and now the elevator has been down for a week as well. I can barely get myself up and down the stairs let alone tote groceries or laundry or garbage.
Have I any recourse at all?
Thank you.
Coralyn Bond
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  MDLawyer replied 1 year ago.

Hello Coralyn and thank you for using the Just Answer website. I am so sorry to hear about your situation. When you say that you are no longer under a lease, do you mean that you are a month to month tenant?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For over ten years since the last lease...
Expert:  MDLawyer replied 1 year ago.

Even though you are a month to month tenant, so long as you are a tenant, you still have rights. The issue is whether the conditions make a place uninhabitable and whether or not the landlords are making repairs or attempting to make repairs. What have you been told by the landlord with respect to the door system and the elevator? How many floors is the building? Were your requests in writing?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
There are three floors and I am on the top floor: so two full sets of stairs plus the additional set to the street or to the basement. I have been e-mailing with management, so I hope that counts as "in writing". They say they are attempting repairs on the door phone, but it has been weeks. And the door still works for emergency purposes so the police or emt's can enter a code to open the door. If the codes work, why not the rest of the system? Oops, sorry that's not your expertise.The house manager has attempted to get it working for me but no luck.The elevator is ancient and management said a part had to be sent for, but my guess is they wouldn't pay for express service.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am really tired. If you will not be responding soon, please let me know.
Expert:  MDLawyer replied 1 year ago.

I apologize for the delay. It is almost 11pm my time. The website no longer notifies me by email of responses and so I have to actually be on my computer to be able to respond.

In almost every state, including California, a landlord has the duty to provide a safe and habitable home for their tenants. This is known as the implied warranty of habitability. Depending on the facts, failure to repair an elevator can indeed be seen by a court as a violation of this implied warranty (chances are that the door phone system would be considered a nuisance and not something that makes the apartment unliveable but that again depends on the specific facts) - especially if it is seen as a safety issue.

I would suggest sending a strongly worded letter letting them know that you consider them to be in violation of the implied warranty of habitability and that you expect the elevator to be repaired by X date or you will seek further recourse.

Please let me know if this has answered your question. If it has, please be so kind as to leave a positive rating as that is the only way that we experts receive credit for the time spent assisting you. If, however, you need further clarification on anything, please let me know so that I may continue to assist you and continue our conversation.

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