Roaches, Stinky Carpet are
Robert S. Griswold | Steven R. Kellman | Ted Smith
This column on issues confronting renters and landlords is written
by Counselor of Real Estate and
Certified Property Manager Robert Griswold, host of Real
Estate Today! with Robert Griswold (10 a.m.
Saturdays on AM1130 - KSDO radio, or on the Internet
and by attorneys Steven R. Kellman, director of the
Tenants' Legal Center, and Ted Smith, principal in a law
firm representing landlords.
QUESTION: Approximately three months ago I had to quickly move into
a furnished rental in which the maintenance had not been completed.
The owner has yet to correct or address many of the deficiencies.
Some of these items may be health and safety issues, like the
roaches coming out of the mattress and box springs; the stinky carpet;
and the daylight visible under the sink.
This building is in the new baseball park area and I am afraid the
owners do not want to spend any money maintaining the property. I
still have not paid my full security deposit. I can't afford to move
so do you have any suggestions as to any recourse I might have?
ANSWER: Kellman: You are entitled to a safe and habitable
dwelling. This includes the furnishings supplied along with the basic
structure. The roach infestation, as long as not tenant caused, is the
responsibility of the landlord.
Carpet that becomes excessively worn out from age should be
replaced. Older carpet may be saturated with mold, mildew or other
contaminants that pose a health hazard and simply cannot be fully
cleaned. Also, carpeting may become frayed causing a trip hazard or
worn down enough to expose carpet nails. Generally, carpet in rentals
has a useful life of five to seven years.
As far as seeing daylight under the sink, any holes in a wall or
ceiling need to be promptly repaired. Being in an area close to the
proposed ballpark is clearly no excuse for your landlord to violate
Smith: The landlord's side of this is a bit different.
You've confessed to a lease violation by failing to pay the agreed
security deposit. For this reason alone, you could be evicted, and it
has nothing to do with the condition of the premises.
Steve Kellman, let's get realistic regarding California's warranty
of habitability. Landlords are required to provide essential services
only. The landlord does not have to replace the carpet. An initial
cleaning and sanitation will suffice.
The landlord should spray for roaches, but you need to watch your
housekeeping to avoid attracting further infestation. With the limited
information on the daylight under the sink, I believe there is
Based on this, and contrary to opposing counsel's opinions, you
will need to pay both your security deposit and rent if you intend to
continue living in this rental property.
Griswold: The practical response is to send the balance of
your security deposit immediately so that you are in compliance with
the lease and cannot be evicted. Since you can't afford to move you
need to motivate your landlord. The full payment of the security
deposit is a start but you must send the landlord a letter outlining
your concerns with a specific emphasis on the health and safety
Remember, landlords do not have to take care of cosmetic issues or
any problems caused by your failure to properly maintain and clean the
premises or any damage you or your guests cause. If the landlord does
not respond promptly after receiving your letter, then I would suggest
you contact the local neighborhood code compliance department and file
Neighborhood code enforcement will inspect your rental unit and
contact the landlord regarding any code violations. The landlord will
be given a short but reasonable amount of time to address any problems
before re-inspecting to ensure that the work was done properly.
In my experience, code enforcement should be able to assist you,
but don't forget that your City Council representative or their staff
also can be very effective in getting action.
Baby makes three
My husband and I have a month-to-month lease on an apartment. There
is a clause in the lease that says no children. If I were to get
pregnant and have a child, would the landlord have legal grounds to
evict? What are tenants rights regarding month-to-month leases?
Kellman: It is a violation of both state and federal fair
housing laws to discriminate against tenants in regards to their
housing situations. It is generally known by most landlords that they
cannot discriminate solely based on a tenant's sex, race, color,
religion, ancestry, national origin, disability or medical condition.
It is also illegal to discriminate based on age or familial status,
which includes families with children. This means that a provision in
your lease which bars children is probably illegal unless your housing
complex is set up as "housing for older persons" and meets
several specific state and/or federal guidelines.
If you became pregnant and the landlord chose to evict you solely
due to that pregnancy, absent qualifying for older-person housing
exemptions, the eviction would be illegal.
YOU'RE A TENANT OR LANDLORD, the authors stand ready to
answer your questions in this column, although letters
cannot be answered individually. Write them at: Rental
Roundtable, Homes Section, San Diego Union-Tribune, P.O.
Box 120191, San Diego, CA, 92112-0191. Or you may e-mail
them at firstname.lastname@example.org
2001 Rental Roundtable
Robert Griswold and the Real Estate
Today! radio show strongly support the intent and the letter of all federal and
state fair housing laws. As a reminder to all owners and managers of real
estate, note that all real estate advertised is subject to the Federal Fair
Housing Act, which makes it illegal to advertise "any preference,
limitation, discrimination because of race, color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex,
physical disability, or familial status, or intention to make any such
preference, limitation or discrimination." Additional state and/or local
fair housing laws may also apply. Be sure to inform all persons that all
dwellings offered or advertised are on an equal opportunity basis.
Revised and Updated -
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Robert S. Griswold, CRE, CPM, CCIM,
PCAM, GRI, ARM
Griswold Corporate Center
Griswold Real Estate Management, Inc.
5703 Oberlin Drive, Suite 300
San Diego, CA 92121-1743
Phone: (858) 597-6100
Fax: (858) 597-6161
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