Skip to main content

Knight v. Hallsthammar - GIVES TENANTS RIGHT TO REDUCE/WITHHOLD RENT RE HABIT

Los Angeles, CA |

Excerpts from Knight v. Hallsthammar (1981), 29 Cal.3d 46(expands on Green v. Superior) - GIVES TENANTS RIGHT TO REDUCE/WITHHOLD RENT RE HABITABILITY ISSUES. "[t]he landlord's lack of fault and reasonable efforts to repair do not prolong the duty to pay full rent."..."At least in a situation where, as here, a landlord has notice of alleged uninhabitable conditions not caused by the tenants themselves, a landlord's breach of the implied warranty of habitability exists whether or not he has had a "reasonable" time to repair. Otherwise, the mutual dependence of a landlord's obligation to maintain habitable premises, and of a tenant's duty to pay rent, would make no sense. "public policy requires that the implied warranty "generally could not be waived by any provision in the rental agreeme

"The same reasons which imply the existence of the warranty of habitability -- the inequality of bargaining power, the shortage of housing, and the impracticability of imposing upon tenants a duty of inspection -- also compel the conclusion that a tenant's lack of knowledge of defects is not a prerequisite to the landlord's breach of the warranty".

+ Read More

Attorney answers 2

Best Answer
Posted

You have to read and understand the case as a whole and make sure that it is good law. As it's a bit of an old case, your state's statutes could have rendered the case mood or no longer good law.

DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area.

Asker

Posted

I haven't had a chance to sherpardize the case yet, but since it is a California Supreme Court case, and expands on another California Supreme Court case, it could only be rendered "moot" by another California Supreme Court.

Brandy Ann Peeples

Brandy Ann Peeples

Posted

Clearly, "mood" was a typographical error. FYI, it is still good law. And, there are circumstances under which a California Supreme Court decision can be overturned or when its decision becomes no longer applicable.

Asker

Posted

thx. what are the instances you refer to wherein a California Supreme Court decisions can be overturned? You mean by citizen vote, etc?

Brandy Ann Peeples

Brandy Ann Peeples

Posted

Well, federal courts can overturn the decision. I've also seen cases by Maryland's highest courts essentially be nullified when the legislature passes a statute which essentially voids the decision or makes it inapplicable. Perhaps the California legislature could require landlords to fix habitability problems within a certain number of days...just speculation, of course. In any event, you should be applauded for undertaking to understand the law and i'm sure people on here (especially in California) appreciate your posting the decision, as it is helpful. A lot of questions people ask me on landlord/tenant issues go to the implied warranty of habitability.

Asker

Posted

Thx for the kind words!

Asker

Posted

Do you see in Knight v. Hallsthammar, that the affirmative defense of breach of implied warranty of habitability is not available to tenants when the eviction is based on a 30 day no cause eviction (i.e. in CA landlords can issue a 30 day or 60 day notice to vacate without listing any reason for the notice, but tenant can claim retaliation, etc., based on the these no cause evictions). I didn't see such a discussion in the case, and wanted a 2nd set of eyes to check this. Thx.

Brandy Ann Peeples

Brandy Ann Peeples

Posted

I'll take a look at it; I haven't thoroughly read it yet but will get back to you.

Asker

Posted

Thx! Look forward to your response!

Posted

Correct. In California, every residential rental agreement has an implied warranty of habitability that is independent of the tenant’s obligation to pay rent. (Code of Civil Procedure §1174.2; Civil Code §§1941–1942.5; Green v. Superior Court (1974) 10 Cal.3d 616, 631–632; Fairchild v. Park (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 919, 927–928.)

A breach of the warranty of habitability is available as an affirmative defense for a tenant in an unlawful detainer action for nonpayment of rent. Note, however, it is not available in an unlawful detainer action based on a 30-day notice to quit. (Code of Civil Procedure §1174.2; Knight v. Hallsthammar (1981) 29 Cal.3d 46, 57.)

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. 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.

Asker

Posted

While I see how you could infer that habitability wouldn't be able to be raised as a defense from the text of CCP 1174.2 (although not directly stated in the statute), since typically landlords don't list a reason (nor is one necessarily required) when issuing a 30 or 60 day notice to vacate, I don't see where such a discussion takes place in Knight v. Hallsthammar. Hence, could you please quote/cite the relevant excerpt from Knight v. Hallsthammar that supports your position. Thx.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer