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Lesson 4:
Tenant's Defenses



§4.02 Breach of the Warranty of Habitability

Every residential rental agreement has an implied warranty of habitability that is independent of the tenant’s obligation to pay rent. [See CCP §1174.2; CC §§1941–1942.5; Green v Superior Court (1974) 10 C3d 616, 631–632; Fairchild v Park (2001) 90 CA4th 919, 927–928.] This means that a landlord of residential premises must put the premises in a condition fit for human occupancy and must repair all subsequent dilapidations that render the premises untenantable. [CC §1941.]

The landlord’s duty to the tenant to provide habitable premises is nonwaivable. CC §1942.1. This implied warranty does not require that a landlord ensure that leased premises are in perfect, aesthetically pleasing condition, but it does mean that “bare living requirements” must be maintained. [Green v Superior Court, supra, 10 C3d at 637.]

A breach of the warranty of habitability is available as an affirmative defense for a tenant in a UD action for nonpayment of rent. But it is not available in a UD action based on a 30-day notice to quit. [CCP §1174.2; Green v Superior Court, supra, 10 C3d at 631; Knight v Hallsthammar (1981) 29 C3d 46, 57.] This defense is item 3a on the UD answer form [see form UD-105].


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