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Your Responsibilities as a Tenant in California

As a tenant in California you are obligated to keep the part of the premises that you occupy and use "clean and sanitary." The law (Civil code 1041) specifies that if the entire building is in disrepair you can't be expected to keep your apartment in pristine condition, so in this case you get a pass. The same statute also makes clear that a landlord isn't required to fix or improve any issue with your unit if you haven't held up your end of the bargain:

  • Throw away your waste in a clean and sanitary way
  • Properly use and clean all electrical, gas and plumbing fixtures and keep them as clean and sanitary as their condition permits
  • Keep anyone off the premises who would destroy deface or damage the property.
  • Use the parts of your home only for the purposes that they were designed for - so you can't turn the kitchen into a bedroom

The only situation where this doesn’t apply is if your landlord expressly agreed in writing to let you do any of these things or to handle them himself.

If you violate your obligation as a tenant then it will be more difficult or impossible for you to claim that your landlord is violating the California warranty of habitability.

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The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.