TENANT'S RIGHTS

Tenants in the State of California and especially tenants living in Berkeley can minimally expect the following rights to apply at all times during their tenancy:

UNDER CALIFORNIA LAW (Civil Code 1941.1)

  • Roofs and walls must not leak;
  • Doors and windows must not be broken;
  • Plumbing and gas must work properly;
  • Hot and Cold water must be provided;
  • Heater must work and be safe;
  • Lights and wiring must work and be safe;
  • Enough cans or bins for trash;
  • Floors, stairways and railings must be maintained and safe;
  • The rental unit must be clean, with no trash, rodents, or other pests;
  • Sewer or septic system must be connected and working properly.

CALIFORNIA HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE 
SECTIONS 17900 THROUGH 17995

  • A working toilet, wash basin, and bathtub or shower;
  • The toilet and bathtub or shower must be in a room which is ventilated and allows for privacy;
  • A kitchen with a sink, which cannot be made of an absorbent material such as wood;
  • Natural lighting in every room through windows or skylights; windows in each room able to open at least halfway for ventilation, unless a fan provides mechanical ventilation; and
  • Safe fire or emergency exits leading to a street or hallway; stairs, hallways and exits kept litter free; and storage areas, garages and basements kept free of combustible materials.
  • In addition, all windows and doors must have secure locks and necessary bolts to secure the premises and the safety of the resident. Smoke detectors are also required by state law.

CITY OF BERKELEY LAW
(Berkeley Municipal Code, Chapter 13.76)

In addition to the rights provided for by California Law as stated above, tenants in Berkeley are provided with the following additional rights: Just Cause Required for Eviction; landlord must file copy of any eviction notices or unlawful detainer actions served upon the tenant with the Rent Stabilization Board offices; interest due on security deposits; the rental unit must be registered with the Rent Stabilization Program; tenant cannot be charged more than the lawful rent ceiling on file with the rent board offices; tenant can file petition with Rent Board requesting a hearing to determine whether there are violations of tenant's rights and to obtain possible rent refunds, reductions, or other adjustments.

TENANT'S RESPONSIBILITIES

The California Civil Code requires a tenant to use the rental property properly and to keep it clean. C.C. Section 1941.2 states that the landlord's obligation to repair is contingent upon the tenant's obligation to:

  • Keep the premises "as clean and sanitary as the condition of the premises permits."
  • Use and operate gas, electrical and plumbing fixtures properly. (Examples of improper use include electrical outlet overload, flushing large, foreign objects down the toilet, and allowing any gas, electrical or plumbing fixture to become filthy.) 
  • Dispose of garbage and trash in a clean and sanitary manner. 
  • Refrain from destroying, damaging and defacing the premises or allowing anyone else to do so.
  • Not to remove any part of the structure, dwelling unit, facilities, equipment or appurtenances or allowing anyone to do so. 
  • Use the premises as an abode as intended, using living and dining rooms, kitchens and bedrooms for their proper use and respective purposes. 
  • Notify the landlord both by telephone and in writing of any needed repairs and provide them with a reasonable time to fix the problem.

Where a tenant violates these responsibilities, contributing substantially to the existence of dilapidation, the tenant cannot hold the landlord responsible for the fact that the unit is not habitable. In addition, the landlord is not obligated to repair any items damaged due to the tenant's negligence.