ive had trouble with the owner on getting him to get things done around here. The unit had no heater for about 7 months, now i have a heater that puts out no heat, i have mold growing in my bathroom, weve tried cleaning it and painting but it keeps coming through, no a.c, low water pressure, slow drain, no kitchen vent. my electrical sockets are dead center of my walls and my walls are slanted. ive had a hard time keeping the landlors son (who lives in a trailer 6 inches away from me) out of my half of the property, im not confortable living here and now looking for a new place to rent. ive asked the management office to fix these things and they keep saying ok but it never gets done can i sue for back rent for all the trouble they've caused us?
First of all, you will need to ascertain for sure whether the granny flat is indeed an illegal unit. If so, then under the case of Gruzen v. Henry (1978) 84 Cal.App.3d 515, the landlord is not entitled to collect or request any rent from you. California law does not reward a landlord who has an illegal structure, and punishes the landlord by declaring the contract leasing that structure "void."
However, even assuming the granny flat is illegal, not all judges will agree on whether a tenant is entitled to get back rent previously paid to the landlord.
What it comes down to is whether the unit was uninhabitable, and what documentation you have to prove that the unit was uninhabitable and for what period of time. Lack of adequate heat would certain be considered significant.
Take a look at California Civil Code sections 1941 and 1941.1.
In addition, study the following two web pages from the Department of Consumer Affairs regarding uninhabitability and the four remedies available to tenants: "repair and deduct", withholding rent, abandonment, and suing for damages. Each web page has legal authority setting forth the law in California (statutes and cases).
Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline