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REAL ESTATE : RENT IT RIGHT

Must landlord fix flea problem?

September 07, 2008|Janet Portman, | Inman news

Question: I live in a flea-infested apartment. I do not own a pet. The fleas come from rodents inside the walls. The property manager will not fix the problem. What can I do?

Answer: In California, the law requires that landlords offer and maintain rental housing that is fit and habitable -- and this means free of vermin such as fleas. When the infestation is traceable to the tenant, the tenant pays for the extermination, but if the tenant is not to blame, the landlord pays. Tenants have various options when landlords won't step up. You can complain to your local or state housing or health department. Or you can take matters into your own hands. California gives tenants "repair and deduct" or "rent withholding" options, so you can fix the problem yourself and deduct the cost from the rent or withhold rent until the landlord addresses the issue, but you must follow the rules precisely.

-- Janet Portman, Inman news

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janet@inman.com.

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