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Building Maintenance and Code Violations

California, landlords are required to provide safe living conditions as related to rental space for tenants. California Civil Code. The failure of a landlord to provide such conditions can lead to a violation of the law and impose civil and, at times, criminal liability upon the landlord. This article shall outline the requirements imposed.

According to California Statute the following Civil Code Secs. 1929, 1941 landlords must ensure that all of the following conditions which make the building ‘fit for human occupancy’ are met: [Civil Code Secs. 1929, 1941]

Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
This one is as important for your renters as it is for you as the landlord. Each bedroom must have a hardwired smoke detector with alarm in it. Smoke alarms are also required in all hallways outside bedrooms/sleeping areas. These should be checked on a regular schedule for defects or issues. Additionally, some municipalities require landlords be required to provide and maintain carbon monoxide detectors. Their degree of responsibility varies according to state-specific laws.
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Hazardous Windows

  • Windows are beautiful additions to your living space, make sure they do not become a hazard to your tenant from how they are installed to types of material used and regular maintenance of windows need to be a priority as a landlord.
  • Installation and materials; Use tempered or safety glass. Check the manufacturer’s designation which will tell you to what degree any particular model has been deemed safe and for what environment it is safe for. Such designations should be clear, visibly applied to the window and should not be removed by either you or your tenant.
    All windows should have the proper wind load capacity, and be double or triple glazed to resist impact.
  • If your rental space has bars on the windows, make sure that they are quick release from the inside.
  • All windows that open should have safety latches and should be checked regularly for proper operation.

Water Heater
Most modern water heaters are relatively easy to maintain and have a lifespan of 8-15 years. Most water heaters come with an expansion tank that helps to regulate the pressure and it is usually this part of the water heating system that requires the most attention and maintenance.  Make sure that the water heater you have in your units come with a temperature/pressure release valve and are installed in a location with proper ventilation.

Yearly scheduled maintenance can help to catch problems early and preventative care can extend the life of your water heater by years.

Missing or Defective GFCIs

In case you did not know a GFCI short for Ground-fault circuit interrupter cuts power to a circuit if it detects changes in current. Why is this important? Most of the time, your GFCI monitors the difference in the current flowing into and out of a tool or appliance. However, when that difference exceeds five milliamps, an indication that a ground fault may be occurring, the GFCI shuts off the flow in an instant as little as .025 seconds. The National Electric Code requires GFCIs in all new kitchens, bathrooms, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, and most outdoor receptacles. Again regular testing of your GFCI’s is essential to the safety of your tenant and your investment.

Handrails Without Returns
Most of us don’t know what this is and yet they are all around us. For any rental unit that uses handrails on the top of stair railings, these handrails and handrail extensions installed on or after April 3, 1997, shall be at a vertical height between 34 and 38 inches above the nosing of treads and landings. For stairs installed before April 3, 1997, this height shall be between 30 and 38 inches.

Aside from purely aesthetic reasons, handrail returns provide an essential safety feature and they eliminate the possibility that loose clothing or a purse strap could get hung up and cause a fall.

Improper Bathroom Venting
For obvious reasons this one is important, but for not so obvious ones it’s critical. Bathrooms are perhaps the most used room in any living unit. As such they require attention to their ventilation who’s importance can not be overstated. Aside from discomfort due to heat and humidity created from showers and other daily bathroom activities, improperly ventilated bathrooms can promote mold and mildew growth. Poorly ventilated bathrooms will place a heavy strain on HVAC units and significantly increase energy consumption.

Following these necessary codes can significantly reduce landlords headaches and increase your properties longevity and value. California, landlords are required to provide safe living conditions as related to rental space for tenants. California Civil Code. The failure of a landlord to provide such conditions can lead to a violation of the law and impose civil and, at times, criminal liability upon the landlord. This article shall outline the requirements imposed.

According to California Statute the following Civil Code Secs. 1929, 1941 landlords must ensure that all of the following conditions which make the building ‘fit for human occupancy’ are met: [Civil Code Secs. 1929, 1941]

Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
This one is as important for your renters as it is for you as the landlord. Each bedroom must have a hardwired smoke detector with alarm in it. Smoke alarms are also required in all hallways outside bedrooms/sleeping areas. These should be checked on a regular schedule for defects or issues. Additionally, some municipalities require landlords be required to provide and maintain carbon monoxide detectors. Their degree of responsibility varies according to state-specific laws.
.

Hazardous Windows
Windows are beautiful additions to your living space, make sure they do not become a hazard to your tenant from how they are installed to types of material used and regular maintenance of windows need to be a priority as a landlord.

Installation and materials; Use tempered or safety glass. Check the manufacturer’s designation which will tell you to what degree any particular model has been deemed safe and for what environment it is safe for. Such designations should be clear, visibly applied to the window and should not be removed by either you or your tenant.
All windows should have the proper wind load capacity, and be double or triple glazed to resist impact.

If your rental space has bars on the windows, make sure that they are quick release from the inside.

All windows that open should have safety latches and should be checked regularly for proper operation.

Water Heater
Most modern water heaters are relatively easy to maintain and have a lifespan of 8-15 years. Most water heaters come with an expansion tank that helps to regulate the pressure and it is usually this part of the water heating system that requires the most attention and maintenance. Make sure that the water heater you have in your units come with a temperature/pressure release valve and are installed in a location with proper ventilation.

Yearly scheduled maintenance can help to catch problems early and preventative care can extend the life of your water heater by years.

Missing or Defective GFCIs
In case you did not know a GFCI short for Ground-fault circuit interrupter cuts power to a circuit if it detects changes in current. Why is this important? Most of the time, your GFCI monitors the difference in the current flowing into and out of a tool or appliance. However, when that difference exceeds five milliamps, an indication that a ground fault may be occurring, the GFCI shuts off the flow in an instant as little as .025 seconds. The National Electric Code requires GFCIs in all new kitchens, bathrooms, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, and most outdoor receptacles. Again regular testing of your GFCI’s is essential to the safety of your tenant and your investment.

Handrails Without Returns
Most of us don’t know what this is and yet they are all around us. For any rental unit that uses handrails on the top of stair railings, these handrails and handrail extensions installed on or after April 3, 1997, shall be at a vertical height between 34 and 38 inches above the nosing of treads and landings. For stairs installed before April 3, 1997, this height shall be between 30 and 38 inches.

Aside from purely aesthetic reasons, handrail returns provide an essential safety feature and they eliminate the possibility that loose clothing or a purse strap could get hung up and cause a fall.

Improper Bathroom Venting
For obvious reasons this one is important, but for not so obvious ones it’s critical. Bathrooms are perhaps the most used room in any living unit. As such they require attention to their ventilation who’s importance can not be overstated. Aside from discomfort due to heat and humidity created from showers and other daily bathroom activities, improperly ventilated bathrooms can promote mold and mildew growth. Poorly ventilated bathrooms will place a heavy strain on HVAC units and significantly increase energy consumption.

Following these necessary codes can significantly reduce landlords headaches and increase your properties longevity and value.