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RobertJDFL
RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 13510
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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The septic tank at the house we are renting needs to be emptied.

Customer Question

The septic tank at the house we are renting needs to be emptied. Our landlord is unable to have this done for a week. We are senior citizens, with out the use of water or bathroom. The landlord just shrug their shoulders and say sorry.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for using Just Answer. I look forward to assisting you.The California Department of Consumer Affairs has a lot of good information on how to best handle situations like this. They recommend:If discussing the problem with the landlord doesn't solve it, and if the problem is the landlord's responsibility you should write a letter or send an e-mail to the landlord. The letter or e-mail should describe the problem, its effect on, how long the problem has existed, what you may have done to remedy the problem or limit its effect, and what you would like the landlord to do. You should keep a copy of this letter or e-mail.You've likely already done that at this point. Not having water or plumbing is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.One option available to you is the "repair and deduct" remedy. The "repair and deduct" remedy allows a tenant to deduct money from the rent, up to the amount of one month's rent, to pay for repair of defects in the rental unit.This remedy covers substandard conditions that affect the tenant's health and safety, and that substantially breach the implied warranty of habitability. As a practical matter, the repair and deduct remedy allows a tenant to make needed repairs of serious conditions without filing a lawsuit against the landlord. The basic requirements and steps for using the repair and deduct remedy are as follows:1. The defects must be serious and directly related to the tenant's health and safety.2. The repairs cannot cost more than one month's rent.3. The tenant cannot use the repair and deduct remedy more than twice in any 12-month period.4. The tenant or the tenant's family, guests, or pets must not have caused the defects that require repair.5. The tenant must inform the landlord, either orally or in writing, of the repairs that are needed.6. The tenant must give the landlord a reasonable period of time to make the needed repairs.What is reasonable depends on the circumstances. With no water and no plumbing, I would think one to two days notice to fix such a serious problem is more then reasonable. If the landlord doesn't make the repairs within a reasonable period of time, a tenant may either make the repairs or hire someone to do them. The tenant may then deduct the cost of the repairs from the rent when it is due. The tenant should keep all receipts for the repairs.Another option would be for you to withhold some or all of the rent (after giving landlord notice and opportunity to repair) until such time as repairs are made. If you're going to do this, make sure to document very well the issues (e.g., take pictures, maybe even consider having a plumber come out if someone will give you a free estimate). And, remember, if you use this remedy, set the money aside, and do not spend it, because if the landlord challenges you in court, the judge can make you deposit the funds into a separate escrow account pending resolution of the case.I would also encourage you to file complaints with your city or county housing board because a refusal to fix something as necessary as running water and plumbing is a serious health code and safety violation.Lots more information and resources can be found here.Your complete satisfaction is my goal. If you need additional information or clarification about my answer, please reply, and I'm happy to assist further. Otherwise, kindly remember to leave a positive rating by clicking on the stars/happy faces (3-5 stars/happy faces) as that is the only way experts such as myself are compensated on this site for our time and expertise, even if you have left a deposit. It doesn't cost you anything extra to leave a rating. Thank you.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.
Did you have any further questions about this matter, or is there anything I could clarify?If not, kindly remember to leave a positive rating by clicking on the stars/happy faces, as that is the only way I am credited for my time, even if you have left a deposit. Thank you.

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