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Old 09-15-2008, 02:07 PM
 
16 posts, read 68,500 times
Reputation: 17
Default Renting an illegal unit in California

Just found out the unit I had been renting for a year in Long Beach, CA is an illegal unit--no certificate of occupancy, no permits for the laundry room convertion, non-habitable. Can I sue for moving expenses? Do I owe future rent according to my lease agreement?
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Old 09-15-2008, 03:38 PM
Status: "Books on my mind (and on my sofa, tables, etc.)" (set 23 days ago)
 
Location: South Bay Native
9,752 posts, read 13,403,536 times
Reputation: 13705
As far as I remember from the small claims court shows, if the owner rented to you without a cert then you really don't have to pay rent. Can't collect on a contract that is illegal to begin with.

Check out caltenantlaw.com for better details, though!
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Old 09-15-2008, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Columbia, California
6,536 posts, read 14,478,128 times
Reputation: 4611
I doubt you can receive comps for moving, as you would have to move someday anyway.
As far as the future rent, depends I guess on your morals. Ask the landlord if he has a legal unit you could move into.
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Old 09-16-2008, 01:08 PM
 
Location: Living on the Coast in Oxnard CA
10,199 posts, read 13,333,260 times
Reputation: 11670
You don't have to pay the rent, and the landlord doesn't have to allow you access to the property if you don't. Remember this is an illegal rental. As far as anyone is concerned it legally doesn't really exist. The deal that you have is between you and the owner. What are your concerns? Chances are the rental should be below market rate. If it is not negotiate that. Has the landlord taken care of the property? do you have any issues with them or the rental? My thought is that if you like the place and it meets your needs then what does it matter? Your not breaking the law hear. The owner of the property is and that is on them. Lets face it plenty of homes in the LA, Ventura, Orange, and San Diego county areas have illegal rentals. As long as the place is meeting your needs let it go. Chances are as soon as you leave someone else will be renting the place. Now if you can't stand it then move to a place that you like.
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Old 09-16-2008, 02:30 PM
Status: "Books on my mind (and on my sofa, tables, etc.)" (set 23 days ago)
 
Location: South Bay Native
9,752 posts, read 13,403,536 times
Reputation: 13705
Quote:
Originally Posted by SOON2BNSURPRISE View Post
You don't have to pay the rent, and the landlord doesn't have to allow you access to the property if you don't. Remember this is an illegal rental. As far as anyone is concerned it legally doesn't really exist. The deal that you have is between you and the owner. What are your concerns? Chances are the rental should be below market rate. If it is not negotiate that. Has the landlord taken care of the property? do you have any issues with them or the rental? My thought is that if you like the place and it meets your needs then what does it matter? Your not breaking the law hear. The owner of the property is and that is on them. Lets face it plenty of homes in the LA, Ventura, Orange, and San Diego county areas have illegal rentals. As long as the place is meeting your needs let it go. Chances are as soon as you leave someone else will be renting the place. Now if you can't stand it then move to a place that you like.
Does habitability mean anything? A unit that is fit to live in should not be too difficult to get a certificate of occupancy. Have you seen those news stories where people die in property fires that started in an illegally converted garage or other building? The fact that lots of areas have illegal rentals means it's ok to live in one?

I would not suggest to live in an illegal rental unit - there is no way of knowing what is already wrong or can go wrong without an inspection - and the inspector would probably take action against the owner for renting a unit illegally to begin with. I would suggest getting out as quickly as you can and finding a safe place to live. Your life is worth more than the money you might get out of the owner to move away.
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Old 09-16-2008, 05:18 PM
 
Location: Living on the Coast in Oxnard CA
10,199 posts, read 13,333,260 times
Reputation: 11670
Quote:
Originally Posted by DontH8Me View Post
Does habitability mean anything? A unit that is fit to live in should not be too difficult to get a certificate of occupancy. Have you seen those news stories where people die in property fires that started in an illegally converted garage or other building? The fact that lots of areas have illegal rentals means it's ok to live in one?

I would not suggest to live in an illegal rental unit - there is no way of knowing what is already wrong or can go wrong without an inspection - and the inspector would probably take action against the owner for renting a unit illegally to begin with. I would suggest getting out as quickly as you can and finding a safe place to live. Your life is worth more than the money you might get out of the owner to move away.
The OP has been living in the unit for over a year now. Seems to me that the OP would have realized that the place was habitabel or not within that time frame. Most of us would understand if we were living in a converted garage that seems unihabitable. The OP recently became aware of the situation. From the information that I gleen from that the place probably looks habitable to the OP and many others. Many individuals have built additions on to there homes, guest homes, or what ever that looked like they were legal. Some individuals prefer to pay less on the property tax and do not file the proper papers to build the add on. Somewhere along the way someone will get burned by the Tax man, I understand that. Doesn't mean that the place is unihabitable though, just illegal.
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:19 PM
 
16 posts, read 68,500 times
Reputation: 17
In response, I am a first time renter and signed a rental agreement implying that the unit was legal and therefore habitable. I was not aware of all the CA laws regarding habitability and yeah there were problems with the unit but I didn't know about my rights.

I started having major problems after the first year--owner would not take responsibility to fix or compensate for anything.

For example, a floor drain in my unit overflowed with waste water backed up from the other units in the building and flooded my unit soaking everything on the floor including my floor mattress. The owner got the drain unstopped but would not replace or pay for my damaged property. Then, the window was broken. I asked the owner to fix it, he said he would but didn't. I offered to have someone else fix it, owner said no, he'd fix it but didn't. Then I was burglarized--entry being this broken window--owner would not take responsibility or compensate for my stolen items. At this point I withheld that month's rent. He sued me for unlawful detainer--that's when I learned about the owner not having the right to rent this unit in the first place and he's facing a wealth of violations including health violations for subjecting me to toxic mold. I'm poor but 50% of my monthly earnings went to pay my rent.

Now I have to go to court to defend against the UD and back rent for a unit that should never have been rented in the first place--and now I need to go to the doctor to assess my health status after being exposed to toxic mold for more than a year, And if I take off from work I don't get paid and I don't have health insurance.

I borrowed money to move out--did not get my security deposit back!!!

Renter's beware. I hear even if you win in Small Claims you lose. I'm sure there are deadbeat renter's out there but there are also slum lords.

I wish I could find an attorney to take my case pro bono but there's a backlog at the non-profit agencies I contacted. They tell me good luck in court, lick your wounds and move on.

But hey, no one promised that life would be fair.

Last edited by CupofCoffee; 09-17-2008 at 03:23 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 09-17-2008, 04:26 PM
 
2,106 posts, read 5,444,909 times
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OK, you say you didn't know that you were living in an illegal unit, but did you never question why your "apartment" had a floor drain? BIG red flag!
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Old 09-17-2008, 04:47 PM
Status: "Books on my mind (and on my sofa, tables, etc.)" (set 23 days ago)
 
Location: South Bay Native
9,752 posts, read 13,403,536 times
Reputation: 13705
Quote:
Originally Posted by SOON2BNSURPRISE View Post
The OP has been living in the unit for over a year now. Seems to me that the OP would have realized that the place was habitabel or not within that time frame. Most of us would understand if we were living in a converted garage that seems unihabitable. The OP recently became aware of the situation. From the information that I gleen from that the place probably looks habitable to the OP and many others. Many individuals have built additions on to there homes, guest homes, or what ever that looked like they were legal. Some individuals prefer to pay less on the property tax and do not file the proper papers to build the add on. Somewhere along the way someone will get burned by the Tax man, I understand that. Doesn't mean that the place is unihabitable though, just illegal.
The reason landlords rent illegal units is not always just to skirt property tax - many times the place is jerry-rigged and not HABITABLE as the OP's follow up post confirms. Not everyone knows from looking at a unit what is wrong with it - that's why it needs to pass inspection by someone who is trained in such.

How could they have known that the sewage from other tenants' pipes would drain up into where they were living when they first rented the place? As I stated earlier - they need to find a place that is legal for their own health and safety.

Why is it that people seem to think it is ok to break certain laws? It isn't uninhabitable, just illegal - that's rich.
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Old 09-17-2008, 05:03 PM
 
Location: Columbia, California
6,536 posts, read 14,478,128 times
Reputation: 4611
Quote:
Originally Posted by CupofCoffee View Post
In response, I am a first time renter and signed a rental agreement implying that the unit was legal and therefore habitable.
document and provide copies and photos.

Quote:
For example, a floor drain in my unit overflowed with waste water backed up from the other units in the building and flooded my unit soaking everything on the floor including my floor mattress. The owner got the drain unstopped but would not replace or pay for my damaged property.
document and provide copies and photos.

Quote:
Then, the window was broken. I asked the owner to fix it, he said he would but didn't. I offered to have someone else fix it, owner said no, he'd fix it but didn't. Then I was burglarized--entry being this broken window--owner would not take responsibility or compensate for my stolen items.
renters insurance


Quote:
and now I need to go to the doctor to assess my health status after being exposed to toxic mold for more than a year
document and provide copies and photos.

Quote:
did not get my security deposit back!!!
document and provide copies and photos.

Quote:
But hey, no one promised that life would be fair.
correct.
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