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What Makes a Home Uninhabitable?

When renting a home, you want it to be a safe and comfortable living situation. One of the most frequent landlord issues renters have is with a home that does not meet these expectations. Every state has its own requirements for landlords and tenants. In California, if a home does not meet certain standards, it is called “uninhabitable.” What makes a home uninhabitable?

The qualities that make a home legally uninhabitable are:

  • If it has any lead or structural hazards that would jeopardize the quality of life for the inhabitant or the people nearby.
  • If it lacks any of the following: sanitation throughout the property, waterproof and weather protection, working plumbing system that has both hold and cold water, effective gas, heat, and electrical systems, trash receptacles, and supported flooring, stairs, and rails.

Properties that are rented have to include:

  • A toilet, sink, and bathtub or shower that is functional
  • A kitchen sink made of a non-absorbent material
  • Natural lighting throughout every room via windows or light fixtures
  • Emergency exits
  • Security devices on the main entry door and windows
  • Smoke detectors that are fully functional

What should you do if your home exhibits one of these uninhabitable characteristics?

The first step that every renter should accomplish is documenting the problem. Secondly, the renter should report the problem to the landlord. For the initial contact, a phone call can be used to report the problem. However, any follow up conversations about the said problem should be in written form in order to have a record of the date and request made. Finally, if after multiple requests the problem is still not fixed, contact the city housing department. They will provide an inspector to help solve the problem.

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