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Old 08-06-2009, 03:38 PM
 
3 posts, read 105,128 times
Reputation: 13

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My husband and I are renting an "apartment" that we were later told is a converted garage. By the looks of it, it meets most habitable standards. However, we have always been skeptical. There is also an attached studio to us, which was converted about 4-5 years ago.

This all started out by notifying our landlord that we noticed termite damage in our children's room (windows). The landlord sent out a termite inspector for a quote. The inspector deemed that 3 of the apartments windows be fixed (2 from termite/water damage and one from water damage alone) and that has since been 2 months ago, and has not been resolved. My husband started researching our tenant rights and noticed that almost all garage conversion are illegal.

I then contacted San Diego City and County Records Department to see if any permits were ever pulled for a garage conversion. The City states that the house was built in 1949, there records go back as far as 1955, and since then no permits have ever been pulled for a garage conversion in habitable space. The City also stated that a permit was pulled in 1961 for an addition of a laundry room and bathroom, however, the permit was revoked and never finalized. The City states this is a illegal garage conversion. I also asked the landlord when the garage was converted, she stated that it was converted in 1961, and that it was grandfathered in when she purchased the property, and she is not doing anything illegal.

I also asked the city if a "Certificate of Occupancy," was ever granted. First they stated that a CO is not issued for single family homes, but for multi-dwelling units/commercial/industrial properties. Secondly, no CO was ever issued!!

Umongst a slew of other issues we are having with our landlord (not biling us for utilities and now trying to bill us for usage from over 9mos plus future usage, fixing the windows spoken about above, having the handyman come complete unfinished projects, etc...), this being the biggest because it not only effects us, but the safety and welfare of our children. We have already filed our complaint with the Neighborhood Code and Compliance Division, and are waiting to hear from the building inspector.

In the mean time, we have already made arrangements to move ASAP, however our landlord is trying to tie us to the lease, which technically speaking by the Cities standards, this is an illegal dwelling regardless if it meets codes, its still is not permitted.

Our questions are, how can we determine if the garage conversion was grandfathered? Although she may have purchased the residence in this condition would it have to be brought up to code and permited, prior to renting, even if grandfathered? Considering it is an illegal garage conversion, whether grandfathered or not, can we legally be bond to our lease? How can it be grandfathered, if the City states their records go back till 1955, and their records only show a permit pulled (but revoked an unfinalized) in 1961? Can our landlord legally retain our deposit? Can we fight for damages, and repayment of our rent?

Any information is helpful. Thanks!!

Last edited by EASTTOWEST082; 08-06-2009 at 03:54 PM..
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Old 08-06-2009, 04:05 PM
 
Location: Talmadge, San Diego, CA
12,966 posts, read 24,000,274 times
Reputation: 7677
Try posting this in the Renter's forum, you may get your answers faster.
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Old 08-06-2009, 04:06 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
16,688 posts, read 39,304,746 times
Reputation: 9097
These are seperate issues. Whether the apartment was properly permitted or not is between the owner and the City. That does not relieve you of your responsibilities to the lease you signed unless the City forces you to move out. If the City zoning for this property does not allow multiple families to live there then they might be able to force tenants to move out.

Does the apartment meet the states minimum standards for habitability, it sounds like you are saying it does, if so then you are bound to the lease. How do the unfinished projects effect the safety and welfare of your children?

California Tenants - California Department of Consumer Affairs

Quote:
The implied warranty of habitability is not violated merely because the rental unit is not in perfect, aesthetically pleasing condition. Nor is the implied warranty of habitability violated if there are minor housing code violations, which, standing alone, do not affect habitability.131
See this information on getting repairs made: California Tenants - California Department of Consumer Affairs

This information on resolving problems might be useful to you: California Tenants - California Department of Consumer Affairs (http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/resolve-problems.shtml - broken link)

Last edited by CptnRn; 08-06-2009 at 04:52 PM..
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Old 08-06-2009, 05:52 PM
 
3 posts, read 105,128 times
Reputation: 13
Again, as already stated, the City has already deemed this an illegally converted garage! Regardless of the basic standards of habitability, it is not permitted to be a habitable space. A complaint has already been filed, and we are waiting for the city inspector to come out. There are many things that are cause for concern, which is why we are concerned for our childrens well being.
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:55 PM
 
Location: Encinitas
2,163 posts, read 4,865,102 times
Reputation: 1262
Quote:
Originally Posted by EASTTOWEST082 View Post
Again, as already stated, the City has already deemed this an illegally converted garage! Regardless of the basic standards of habitability, it is not permitted to be a habitable space. A complaint has already been filed, and we are waiting for the city inspector to come out. There are many things that are cause for concern, which is why we are concerned for our childrens well being.
I think was CaptRn was saying, and I think he/she is correct, is that the issue of whether or not the unit where you live is or is not permitted by the city is not relevent to your lease for said property. They are separate issues. As in, you could not legally stop paying rent if you thought the converted garage was not permitted. That's an issue between the city or county and the property owner, not between you and your landlord. One issue really has nothing to do with the other.
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:16 PM
 
3 posts, read 105,128 times
Reputation: 13
Ok well thanks for your information. The reason for the question was because if you go to California Tenant Law - Free legal advice for California renters' rights.

Under: [SIZE=4]Do You Have A Legal Reason to End the Lease?[/SIZE]
It is easier to have a LEGAL REASON to terminate your lease, than to "break" it. This means a reason which the LAW recognizes as a VALID one for terminating the lease. That's right. The law itself created leases, but recognizes that under certain circumstances, you have the right to end the lease prematurely, even if the landlord is throwing a tantrum in protest.
If you have a legal reason to terminate the lease, you can do it, regardless of your actual motive. Your motive is why you really want to break the lease, in real terms: a death in the family, a job transfer, a divorce, or moving to your new house. You may have the most honorable motive in the world to break your lease. However, that by itself doesn't excuse your failure to follow the contract. Motive is irrelevant, here. Without a legal reason, you have a bigger battle on your hands. Law is about power and rights, not common sense and fairness.

[SIZE=4]The Many Legal Reasons to End a Lease[/SIZE]
You can legally end the lease for several reasons, one of which may apply in your case. Review the ones that apply to you:
1. Uninhabitable conditions, which only need to affect habitability, not necessarily unlivable, and which may include:
a. Infestations of cockroaches, rats, or other vermin
b. Noxious odors, such as from sewage leaks, mold and mildew, dead rats in the walls, pigeons nesting in the attic
c. Noisy neighbors in your building, or
d. Criminal activity in the building or neighborhood, such as drugs and gangs
2. An illegal unit, such as an illegally converted garage, basement, or attached structure you're living in [a common situation].

There for we were just looking for added advice/opinion.
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Old 08-08-2009, 04:10 PM
 
106 posts, read 215,763 times
Reputation: 41
Just straight up off the record talk to them and mention you want to move cause it's not permitted. As in you may have to mention this to the City aka drop a dime. No letters or phone calls.
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Old 08-08-2009, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Talmadge, San Diego, CA
12,966 posts, read 24,000,274 times
Reputation: 7677
The OP has already filed a complaint with City Code Enforcement. These kinds of problems have to be taken care of by them.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:13 PM
 
1 posts, read 32,841 times
Reputation: 11
Wow. I am currently in this same situtation. I am trying to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy. i am curious if I have to paid rent where there is not a legal address because it's a converted garage.
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Old 03-26-2011, 04:38 AM
 
Location: Southern California
3,115 posts, read 6,987,397 times
Reputation: 3657
Quote:
Originally Posted by liljen View Post
i am curious if I have to paid rent where there is not a legal address because it's a converted garage.
It doesn't work that way... If you don't want to pay your rent, then move put. If you stay, then you have to the pay rent.
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