First Step to Correct a Housing Code Violation

You believe your home has a serious violation of the housing code.  But you’re not certain.  How can you tell?

“Substantial” compliance is the standard used by the courts.

Landlords are not required to have their properties in perfect, aesthetically pleasing conditions.  In most cases, landlords need what is called “substantial compliance.” This means that the conditions meet the applicable code standards that affect health and safety.

The courts have found violations of the housing code when there is:

  • lack of heat in numerous rooms,
  • a collapsed bathroom ceiling,
  • hazardous electrical wiring,
  • raw sewage seepage under the building due to broken plumbing,
  • infestation from rats, termites, or other vermin,
  • broken and deteriorated doors and windows,
  • lack of hot and cold running water,
  • leaking roof, and
  • leaking plumbing fixtures.

Do you see how these examples could affect your health and safety?

Here’s the first step you should do if you believe your home has serious violations of the housing code.

Make a list of everything you believe is wrong.  The list should be organized room by room.

Note on your list when the problems first appeared or whether were they present when you moved in.

Then write a letter to your landlord.  Ask your landlord to make the repairs within ten days.

It is not necessary to send the letter to your landlord certified mail. You can mail the letter is a stamped envelope.

As always, I advocate that you keep a copy of your letter and anything else you send or receive from your landlord.

Speaking up and letting your landlord know that your home has conditions that need repair might get him to act.

Do you have house code violations in your home? Are you uncertain what to do next? You should consider talking to an experienced tenant attorney who can help you with your specific issue.

Know your rights. Protect yourself.

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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Real Estate Attorney
1458 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Mary Catherine Wiederhold
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Courtney Brown
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