How Long Does a Landlord Have to Fix a Plumbing Problem?

Landlord must meet building and health codes

In California, your landlord must meet state and local building and health codes. See .

Major Plumbing Issues

Your rental unit likely will be considered uninhabitable if it has inadequate sanitation, if the plumbing facilities are not in good working order, if you do not have hot and cold running water or if your system is not properly connected to a sewage disposal system. Your landlord must supply a working toilet, wash basin, and bathtub or shower.

Minor Plumbing Issues

A dripping faucet does not make your unit uninhabitable. Before you contact your landlord, read your lease or rental agreement as some agreements make the tenant responsible for minor repairs. Your landlord is not responsible for repairing damage that you or your guests have caused. You have no right to ask the landlord to carry out statutory repairs if you are not current on the rent.

Notify Your Landlord

Your landlord is not obliged to fix the defect unless he knows about it. Notify your landlord in writing, and preferably by certified mail, that he has a duty to fix the plumbing problem under landlord-tenant law.

Time to Complete Repairs

The law usually considers 30 days to be a reasonable period of time, but a shorter period may be appropriate in some circumstances. If your pipes have burst, spilling water into the unit, a day or two may be reasonable, assuming that the landlord can employ a qualified repair person within that time period.

Can I Complete the Repairs myself?

If your landlord does not make the repairs in a reasonable time, you may pay for the repair yourself and deduct the cost from your rent. Alternatively, you may withhold a capped portion of the rent until the landlord makes the unit habitable. In certain cases, you may move out and abandon the lease so that you have no further liability for the rent. These remedies apply only in the most serious cases affecting the unit’s habitability. The landlord can file a countersuit if you get it wrong so it’s worth consulting an attorney before you take self-help action.

DiJulio Law Group