What is the Landlord Nuisance Law?

Filed under: Real Estate Law

As real estate attorneys in Temecula and throughout Southern California, we will occasionally be asked about the landlord nuisance law. This law was established to protect tenant rights in situations where the landlord is either negligent in his duties to adequately maintain the property, or even outright intentionally produces some condition which makes the property uninhabitable to a certain degree.

The landlord nuisance law only applies under a specific set of circumstances. If these circumstances are found to exist, tenants may be awarded damages to compensate them for the loss of peaceful enjoyment and occupation of the property. The state of California has defined the following parameters to determine whether a landlord is liable for damages in a particular situation:

To prove the claim, a tenant must show (1) that the landlord leased the property; (2) that the landlord, in acting or failing to act, created a condition that was harmful to health, indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property; (3) that this condition interfered with tenant’s free use of the leasehold; (4) that an ordinary person would be reasonably annoyed or disturbed by landlord’s conduct; and (5) that the tenant was harmed because of the nuisance.

Naturally, some of these conditions are relatively easy to prove, while others may appear at face value to be a matter of opinion. For example, it can be difficult to prove that the tenant suffered harm in a case that does not involve actual physical injury. These cases can be (and have been) won in court on many occasions, though it is important to distinguish not getting along with your landlord with conduct that renders a landlord liable. In these cases it’s important to hire an experienced real estate attorney in Temecula, San Diego or Southern California to handle the case, since the burden of sufficient proof is on the tenant.

Landlords will also need representation from a Southern California, San Diego, or Temecula real estate attorney in these cases, as there certainly have been situations in which tenants have filed lawsuits over frivolous claims. Often mediation is effective at remedying these cases, and the conflict does not necessarily always proceed to the courtroom.

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