Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Kelvin Nielsen
As a tenant in California, you have certain rights after your apartment floods!
Under California law (CA Civ. Code § 1941.2), landlords have a duty to provide habitable living conditions to tenants. This legal requirement is commonly referred to as the “implied warranty of habitability.”
The warranty also outlines what rights tenants enjoy when a landlord fails to make repairs on time.
So, if your apartment becomes unused after being flooded, you may be able to exercise a few legal rights under state law.
The following are answers to commonly asked questions regarding a tenant’s right after their apartment floods.
What are My Rights after Flooding in My California Apartment?
Your apartment has flooded, now what next? Before taking any action, first understand what rights you have under California law. They are as follows.
#1: You have a right to demand for repairs from the landlord.
As already aforementioned, landlords in California have a duty to provide their tenants with a habitable property. But after your apartment has flooded, it may become uninhabitable in any of the following ways.
One, if there is structural damage. Severe flooding can cause significant damage to the walls, roof, and foundation of your home, rendering it unsafe to live in.
Two, if there is damage to the electrical and plumbing systems. This can create a fire hazard, risking the safety of you and your family.
Three, if the flooding damages furniture, appliances, as well as your personal belongings. This can leave you with no place to sleep, cook, or even live in.
Flooding can also lead to the growth of mold in your apartment. Mold is known to cause health problems, including respiratory problems and allergies.
In these circumstances, you may be able to demand repairs from the landlord. The landlord will then have up to 30 days to restore the unit’s habitability.
#2: You have a right to withhold further rent payments.
California law requires landlords to make requested repairs within 30 days of being notified. Sometimes even sooner depending on the severity of the issue.
If the landlord fails to do so, you may be able to exercise the right to withhold rent payments, among other options.
That said, withholding rent payments can be a serious lease violation if not done properly. It may even give your landlord the legal right to evict you from the property for failing to pay rent.
To consider the rent withholding option, the flooding situation in your home must be truly serious. In addition, you must do the following.
- Send a written notice to the landlord letting them know you require repairs.
- Allow the landlord reasonable time to make the repairs. State law limits this to up to 30 days.
- If the landlord fails to make the repairs within 30 days, you can go ahead and withhold rent. You must, however, continue paying the reasonable rental value of the unit in its unrepaired state.
In addition, document the flooding for record-keeping purposes and keep any correspondence you have with the landlord.
Aside from withholding rent, other legal options you can exercise include suing the landlord for damages and breaking the lease without penalty.
#3: You have a right to continue living on the property after your apartment floods.
A landlord cannot evict a tenant from their apartment after flooding occurs. This would be a form of constructive eviction and it’s illegal in California. (Here is a guide on California tenant rights during eviction).
There is one exception here, though. That is, if you’re responsible for the flooding in your apartment. For example, if you intentionally flood your unit to ruin the property. In such a case, you’d be liable for the cost of repairs.
Your landlord may also have a legitimate reason to kick you out of the property for causing negligent damage to the property.
Do you have to pay rent if your apartment floods in California?
Failure to pay rent is a serious violation of the lease agreement. So, even after your rental property has flooded, you must continue honoring your contractual responsibility of paying rent when it is due.
There is an exception to this rule, though. You may be able to withhold rent payments if the following is true. That is, if the flooding impacts your health and/or safety and the landlord hasn’t made the repairs within 30 days. Green v. Superior Court, 10 Cal.3d.616 (1974).
You must, however, continue paying rent for the usable portion of your home. For instance, if the home has 3 bedrooms and only 1 has flooded, then you must continue paying the market rate rent for the remaining 2 bedrooms. You can then continue meeting your lease obligations after the landlord has repaired the flooded room.
Who pays for repairs when your home floods in California?
It depends on what caused the flood. If your apartment flooded because of a natural calamity of your landlord’s negligence, then the landlord will be liable for the repairs.
However, the landlord may not be responsible if the flooding is caused by the tenant’s negligence. An example would be where the tenant leaves a faucet running. Your landlord may also not be responsible if the flooding is caused by a public entity, such as the local government that acted negligently.
Does landlord have to pay for hotel during repairs California?
Whether a landlord is responsible for paying for hotel during repairs in California will depend on what caused the damage in the first place.
Did the damage arise from the landlord’s negligence or intentional acts? If it did, then the landlord would have to pay for the tenant’s hotel expenses as the repairs go on.
For instance, if the landlord failed to repair a leaky roof even after being properly notified by the tenant of the issue on time.
However, landlords in California may not have to pay for a hotel during repairs if the damage results from a natural phenomenon. For instance, if the damage occurs from a natural flood or a fire. In such cases, you may have to file a claim with your renters’ insurance for compensation of your hotel stay.
In other cases, though, the lease may have a clause indicating the landlord’s responsibility to pay for the tenant’s hotel expenses during repairs. In such a case, the landlord must stay true to those rules.
If you have to relocate for repairs, the best thing to do would be to speak to your landlord. Here is a guide on tenants’ relocation rights in California.
There you have it. The rights you have after your apartment floods in California. As a renter, you have a right to live in a habitable home. You can read more about what other rights you have under California law (CA Civil Code 1940-1954.06) here.
Disclosure: The content herein isn’t a substitute for advice from a professional attorney. It’s only meant to serve educational purposes. If you have a specific question, kindly seek expert attorney services.
Hi, I’m Kelvin Nielsen, an experienced landlord and accomplished real estate lawyer. My focus is on answering your questions about renting in the hopes of making your life as a renter or a landlord a bit easier.