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The worst case of habitability ive seen. Tenant served unlawful detainer 7-13-13. Asking for $$$ & leave. Riverside Co, Desert

Palm Springs, CA |

Tenant has rented for 5 years. Has fallen short in paying rent the past 2-3 mths. Tenant has terminal illness? House has been without heat, 5 years. One dec = 29F...Tenant requests, owner agreed, but Never happens. No a/c the 1st, 2yrs. Tenant Request, owner denied. Tenant put in used windows units, at own exspense. Swamp cooler leaked into house, 4 yrs ago, owner never fixed, ceiling in hall, caving in. Plumbing leaks, never repaired, requests fall on deaf ears. Tenant uses buckets. Wall in shower visible from exterior, you can actually, put your hand through... House is on propane, Propane company says Unserviceable, 5 yrs ago. It was Never replaced. Oven Never worked 5 years. Possible black mold in ceiling. is it unreasonable for tenant to ask for 1/2 rent back for the 5 years?

The Tenant had nowhere to go, Finds & rents this, dilapidated house, Near palm springs, calif. I know the condition of the house upon move in, as the tenant was sick & i helped move him in...... The house was,{ & still is} clearly violating codes....... Im just trying to help. Would a lawyer here take his case? Does he have 1? its 10 minutes from palm springs, & i personally cant see, how this landlord can justify any of his actions for the past 5 years 5 months..... The 5 oclock news might like to see what this landlord, terms Acceptable....The tenant never called code enforcement, because he believes { knows} theyd kick him out.... He has paid others in winter, to stay at their home, because of the lack of heat....all the while paying the rent. It was brutal, i know, i did what i could to help....Im familiar, with the hOuSe" To me" its like his landlord thinks, {Based on the house} " You asked me to hit you in the head with the hammer, So i will" Respectfully submitted, Thank you

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Attorney answers 2

Best Answer

You are, apparently, a good friend of this tenant. I think he may have recourse to legal help.

The premises appear to violate the statutory requirements for habitability, and the landlord appears to have violated his duties as landlord (Civil Code sections 1941, 1941.1,1941.3). Inspection by a housing authority might be required to provide authoritative evidence of the dilapidation.

If this case goes to court, judgment for the tenant would seem to be a slam dunk if the case is competently presented to the judge. But if your tenant cannot afford an attorney, you may still be able to obtain one, because Section 1174.2 provides for an award of attorney fees and costs if the tenant prevails. In addition, the judge can reduce the rent due in the past, can reduce the rent due in the future, can order the landlord to make the required repairs, and can retain jurisdiction until the repairs are made. That means that an attorney who takes the case can get his fees and costs back. He can also feel some satisfaction in obtaining justice for an abused tenant.
I suggest that you contact local attorneys, find someone who has argued a number of unlawful detainer cases. If there is a legal aid office in the area, they would, I am sure, be glad to represent your man. A little publicity could put some pressure on the owner to rectify the situation.
Best of luck!

N. Munro Merrick

N. Munro Merrick


In fact there is a Legal Aid office in Palm Springs at 423 North Palm Canyon Drive, , 760-832-9770. GO FOR IT!!



Mr. Merrick, Thank you for your clear knowledge. I helped him Go for it! Now, I have lost faith in judges...... For the judge to rule in favor of the tenant on 8-1-13. Plaintiff ordered to Repair hOuSe. Rent reduced to $250.00. Tenant ordered to pay $1391.00 , rather than $3300.00. Judge states, " if you dont trust mr. M, come back on the 7th & pay him in front of me. On the 7th, tenant & plaintiff appear. multiple lawyers hearing a case. Judge says lets get this out of our way". Judgement for plaintiff! Tenant reminds judge of his ruling. judge states " i woulde NEVER say that! " Tenant has been to clerk multiple times, they claim their is no file. Thanks for your help. The Right person won, then lost. no record of the hearing? Be well & Thank you again.


If the rental dwelling is truly uninhabitable, the tenant has no obligation to pay rent. Uninhabitability would be a defense to non-payment of rent. (Terminal illness would not be a viable defense). It is unlikely the tenant would be able to recover back half of the rent already paid over the past 5 years. Nevertheless, the landlord would still be able to evict the tenant and recover possession of the premises due to non-payment of rent over the past several months.

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 for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

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