What Is Substandard Housing?

Substandard housing is not only housing that is unattractive or obsolete. It’s housing that poses a risk to the health, safety or physical well-being of its residents and its neighbors and visitors. According to a report released by the University of California Berkeley Health Impact Group, substandard housing is associated with greater risk of disease, crime, social isolation and decreased mental wellness.

Substandard Housing Basics

California laws, in addition to local zoning requirements, require that all houses be safe for their residents and the surrounding region. It follows that houses must meet local building codes, must not be falling apart or infested with rodents and should not introduce other safety threats to either residents or visitors. Houses that do not meet these requirements are believed substandards.

Common Issues

Physical deterioration is frequently a contributing element to inadequate housing. A house might, as an instance, require a new roof. When it rains, the roof might cave in or leak, causing the house to the residents to be injured. This, in turn, creates additional hazards if the house is flooded or falling apart. Some cases of substandard housing are not so visible. Outdated or dangerous electrical systems, rusting or loose pipes and gas leaks can all pose significant safety hazards which may go unnoticed until an accident occurs.

Issues for Renters

The law requires landlords to keep their properties in safe, habitable condition and to abide by local building codes. Renters whose houses are in disrepair must contact their neighbours in writing. The law further permits renters to fix damage themselves and deduct the costs in lease if a landlord fails to provide repairs within 30 days of notification. On the other hand, the repairs must charge less than 1 month’s lease for the repair-and-deduct choice to be viable. San Francisco residents who find the repairs important and costly, for example, might contact the San Francisco Rent Board for aid. If the house is uninhabitable, this might void the lease and permit the renters to transfer out; it may also be grounds for a suit.

Issues for Owners

Sometimes owners only can not afford to fix their homes. This can start a cascade of legal problems. Substandard homes might be condemned or the landlord might be prohibited from allowing anyone to occupy the home until it’s repaired. If a home is in disrepair and the landlord can’t mend it, she must contact the Public Housing Authority for advice.

See related