Tenant Law in California
The relationship between a landlord and tenant in Westminster, California can occasionally be a touchy one. Landlords and tenants are not always clear on their respective rights and obligations.
There are numerous rights and responsibilities that landlords and tenants have. It's important that each party is aware of their rights, and the rights of the other party. By knowing and respecting these rights, the risk of conflict should be reduced dramatically.
Landlord's Rights in Westminster, CA
Most obviously, landlords have a right to collect rent from their tenants. When a tenant agrees to pay a landlord a particular amount of money for the right to occupy the landlord's property, a contract is formed. Tenants have to hold up their end of the deal.
Landlords also have a right to be free from damage to the rented unit. Tenants are expected not to damage their dwellings, intentionally or negligently. Landlords can deduct the cost of repairs from the tenant's security deposit. In general, tenants are not accountable for damage resulting from ordinary wear and tear.
Tenant's Rights in Westminster, CA
At the most basic level, tenants have a basic right to what they're paying for: a habitable living environment. Thus, landlords in Westminster, California must ensure that the units they rent to tenants meet some basic standards for human habitation. These requirements vary from state to state, but are often fairly easy to meet. There are no legal standards that rented units be pretty, particularly spacious, or luxurious. They simply have to be fit for human beings to live in them. To be considered "habitable," rented units must have water, electricity, some form of heating (if the local climate necessitates it), and adequate protection from the elements (proper insulation, no roof leaks, windows that close, etc.).
Additionally, tenants are entitled to common areas which are reasonably safe and clean, and free of physical obstacles. Areas such as lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and fire escapes must comply with the building codes of Westminster, California. Additionally, any other unreasonable safety hazard, even if it doesn't violate a specific provision of a building code, can create liability for the landlord if it injures a tenant.
Under federal and California law, tenants are also entitled to protection against discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, marital status, or gender. Such discrimination can lead to grave civil penalties against the landlord. Landlords further cannot discriminate against tenants based on physical disability, and have to make reasonable accommodations for physically disabled tenants. For instance, they have to allow disabled tenants to make minor physical alterations to the unit (at the tenant's expense) to make it more accessible. Now, they don't need to allow the tenants to have the building remodeled. We're just talking about things like installing handrails in the bathroom, and similar things. The landlord can, however, require tenants to restore the apartment to its original condition, at the tenant's expense, once the tenant leaves.
Tenants are also legally safeguarded from unfair eviction. Before a lease agreement expires, landlords cannot evict tenants unless they breach as significant term of the agreement by not paying rent, causing serious damage to the property, engaging in activities that are a nuisance to the other tenants, or engaging in illegal activity on the property, among other things.
Can a Westminster, California Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Tenants and landlords always want to avoid getting into any serious disputes - these disputes interfere with the tenant's living arrangement, and the landlord's business. In short, they help nobody. While a good Westminster, California attorney can definately help his or her client prevail in such a dispute, they may be more essential for their ability to help prevent such disputes from escalating in the first place.