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Habitability Claims

Investigating & Evaluating from a Design, Construction, Maintenance, Cost & Allocation of Responsibility Perspective



Habitability Claims appear (to us) to becoming more and more common. We don’t know why. According to Google (https://www.definitions.net/definition/habitability) “Habitability is the conformance of a residence or abode to the implied warranty of habitability. ... It is an implied warranty or contract, meaning it does not have to be an express contract, covenant, or provision of a contract. It is a common law right of a tenant or Legal doctrine.” And although there is no concise, statutory definition of the term, there are LOTS of regulations mandating the minimum performance requirements of residential property being rented by Owners to tenants.

In addition to delivering it as part of PFCS’ 2019 Investigating & Evaluating Property Claims Webinar Series, Pete Fowler co-presented a program on Habitability Claims on Nov. 29, 2018, at the ASCDC Construction Defect Seminar in Costa Mesa, CA.

We have published two Case Studies on the subject of Habitability Claims:

  1. A Condominium Conversion with Habitability Claims

  2. A Custom Home in an Upscale Neighborhood with Water Intrusion and Habitability Claims

Program Outline

  1. Introduction

  2. Our Method

  3. Investigation

  4. Analysis & Conclusions

  5. Costs

  6. Presentations

  7. Conclusion

Learning Objectives

  1. Introduce a framework for conducting a professional investigation of a habitability claim.

  2. Gain a big-picture perspective on handling habitability claim investigations from a building expert perspective.

  3. Review Case Studies of numerous building and project types.

  4. Discussion of options for report formats.

  5. Look at actual project deliverables.


Download our presentation notes from the 2018 ASCDC Construction Defect Seminar in Costa Mesa, CA.

We commonly begin our research using our not-patent-pending Proving the Obvious Using Google method. So we searched "Habitability in California" and followed the directions from the blog post. The results from Google pages one and two are listed below and here are the combined PDFs of the results from page 1 (50 pages) and page 2 (54 pages).

Links from page 1 of our Google search:

  1. https://www.caltenantlaw.com/HabChecklist.htm This list is a guide to help you identify all of the things that can affect habitability, based upon Civil Code §1941.1 and Health and Safety Code §17920.3. Due to the variety of circumstances which can arise in a given rental situation, all of the possible conditions can’t be listed, so you should use your own judgment to determine whether a particular condition you are concerned with is like one of those listed here. Plainly stated, just because it’s not on this list doesn’t mean it isn’t an uninhabitable one, particularly if it adversely affects living there.

  2. https://www.stimmel-law.com/en/articles/landlord-obligations-habitable-premises-basic-california-law

  3. https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/uninhabitable-conditions-in-california-the-right-of-a-tenant-to-move-out-and-break-their-lease-35678

  4. https://www.azizlegal.com/single-post/2017/02/01/The-Implied-Warranty-Of-Habitability-In-California

  5. http://tenantdefenders.mobi/the-right-to-decent-and-habitable-housing-in-california/

  6. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/top-10-landlord-legal-responsibilities-california.html

  7. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/california-tenant-rights-withhold-rent-repair-deduct.html

  8. http://asidilaw.com/housing-habitability.html

  9. https://www.sanfranciscoinjurylawyerblog.com/what_does_habitability_mean_in_1/

  10. http://www.legaldocspro.net/blog/warranty-of-habitability-in-california/

Links from page 2 of our Google search:

  1. https://www.bvlawsf.com/landlord-tenant-law/habitability/

  2. https://www.bvlawsf.com/landlord-tenant-law/habitability

  3. https://gomezsimonelaw.com/habitability-attorney-landlord-tenant-slumlord-cases-california-los-angeles/

  4. https://www.pturnagelaw.com/Tenant-and-Landlord/Breach-of-warranty-of-habitability.shtml

  5. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=CIV&sectionNum=1941.1.

  6. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=CIV&sectionNum=1942.3.

  7. https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/4300/4320/

  8. http://www.laklawyers.com/resources/articles/a1_warrantees_of_habitability.pdf

  9. https://www.tobenerlaw.com/failure-to-repair/

  10. https://caselaw.findlaw.com/ca-court-of-appeal/1478205.html