If a tenant uses as an affirmative defense the fact that a landlord trying to evict them still owes them rent credit for an agreement to make major repairs under California Civil Code § 1942.1, and the tenant can prove the facts, can a court order that the tenant can remain in possession at least until the rent is fully credited? Would it matter if the repairs related to Civil Code § 1941 or if they were simply more general maintenance repairs agreed to?
As a separate consideration, what if it turns out that the tenant discovers that the rental unit is illegally zoned? Could a tenant in this situation also be allowed to stay until the rent is fully credited? It would seem that on equitable grounds alone such a tenant should be allowed to stay at least until the landlord credits the tenant fully for the repairs and that even a government building code enforcement agency should allow the tenant to stay until credited before ordering the premises terminated.
Yes, it is possible (although rare) for a tenant to win an unlawful detainer action and as a consequence, be permitted to stay. As long as the tenant can prove that the landlord agreed to a rent credit, it does not matter whether the repairs were general maintenance repairs or something more substantial.
It would also depend on how much back rent we are talking about. If the back rent is equal to the amount of the work credit, then the facts are definitely arguable - and you should see an attorney immediately.
If the back rent owed is greater than the rent credit, then you will probably not be able to remain in possession.