Landlord Responsibilities for Common Areas In Rental Units

With the holidays on the horizon, many people begin thinking about gatherings with their family, friends, and neighbors. Whether trick or treating through breezeways, watching the game in a community lounge, or sneaking in one last swim at the apartment pool; tenants will be taking advantage of the common areas provided by landlords and shared with their neighbors.  Some might wonder who has responsibility for these places and what they should do if they notice a problem.  This post discusses the warranty of habitability and covenant of quiet enjoyment as applied to common areas. 

According to the California Civil Code, (§ 1941.1(6)), in order to meet habitability standards, “all areas under control of the landlord,” must be “kept in every part clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.” This means that any issues of cleanliness or lack of maintenance, such as dirty furnishings, burned out lights, and unclean pools or other amenities should be reported.  Tenants renting their homes are just as entitled to a safe experience going beyond their front doors as they are behind it.  Aside from creating health and safety issues, a landlord routinely failing to keep up on cleaning and repair of common areas may be violating the implied warranty of habitability. 

While it might seem less of a hazard in the fall and winter months, it is also important to keep an eye on environmental hazards like dead trees, dry brush, or mounds of loose dirt that can become homes for unwanted animal life, or dangerous complications in the event of flooding, wildfires, or other natural disasters.  Among other things that may be designated as substandard dwellings are “Those premises on which an accumulation of weeds, vegetation, junk, dead organic matter, debris, garbage, offal, rodent harborages, stagnant water, combustible materials, and similar materials or conditions constitute fire, health, or safety hazards.” (Health and Safety Code § 17920.3.)   

If these conditions are not remedied, tenants should consider speaking to a tenant rights attorney and consider having the violations brought to the attention of code enforcement. 

Whether it is having the pilings under houses washed away, trees falling on people’s homes, or common areas left without lighting for months on end, the experienced attorneys at Tenant Law Group have seen a great deal.  If you think your common areas have been neglected, do not hesitate and find out what can be done today.