Breaching the Warranty of Habitability Can Stop Your Eviction in Its Tracks

When some tenants prepare to move out, they stop caring so much about their surroundings and start neglecting their rental. Landlords know this, and they are frequently – and understandably – hesitant to make repairs or perform in-depth maintenance until after the tenant leaves for good. After all, why invest money in a unit if the occupant might damage or misuse it?


Although understandable, this approach is problematic. When landlords fail to keep up with their properties, they risk violating the implied warranty of habitability that is a part of every lease agreement in California. And this can stop an eviction from moving forward.

What Is the Implied Warranty of Habitability?

First defined by the California Supreme Court in Green v. Superior Court in 1974, the implied warranty of habitability imposes a long list of property conditions landlords must maintain to ensure their rentals are livable.


Now codified in Cal. Civ. Code § 1941, the implied warranty of habitability states that a rental unit must have the following to be fit for human occupancy:


  • Waterproofing and weather protection for the roof and exterior walls
  • No broken windows or doors
  • Plumbing that’s up to code and in working condition
  • Hot and cold water
  • Heat
  • Electricity
  • Clean and sanitary building, grounds, and facility
  • No rodents or vermin
  • An adequate number of trash cans and dumpsters
  • Well-maintained floors, stairs, and railings
  • A locking mail receptacle for each tenant

A Breach Can Hurt Your Chances of Eviction

Because a breach of the warranty of habitability is a valid defense to eviction, it’s important for landlords to uphold their legal obligations. Otherwise, it may become very difficult to evict a problem tenant.


In some cases, tenants might create unsanitary conditions that render a rental uninhabitable and lead to additional violations of § 1941. For example, a tenant in a hoarding situation might fill an apartment with garbage that attracts rats.


California case law is clear that the landlord isn’t responsible for the mess inside the apartment; however, the landlord must still do everything possible to remedy the rat infestation.


To further complicate matters, the conditions in the hoarder’s apartment may very well affect neighboring tenants, which can trigger a duty in the landlord to make the unit livable again. These are frequently complex and delicate cases that require the help of an experienced California eviction lawyer.

California Real Estate and Eviction Law

Kirkman J. Hoffman has more than 20 years’ experience representing commercial and residential landlords, owners, and property managers in Silicon Valley and the surrounding regions. Contact the team at Hoffman Law Group today at (408) 241-9620 to discuss your eviction matter.


This website has been prepared by Hoffman Law Group, APC for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.