Under California state law, tenants have the right to livable premises containing, at minimum, well-maintained floors, functioning plumbing and windows, and exterior walls and a roof that are both properly waterproofed and provide protection from the weather, states Nolo. If these minimum conditions are not met, a tenant has the right to withhold rent, pay for repairs and deduct the cost from his rent, move out of the building without giving notice, sue the landlord, or call building health inspectors.
Under the California Health and Safety Code, every tenant has the right to natural lighting in every room, doors and windows that bolt for protection, a kitchen sink, and natural or mechanical ventilation in each room, states the City of Berkeley.
Many cities in California provide tenants additional rights not provided by the state, states Nolo. For example, in Berkeley, rent board offices maintain files of rent ceilings, which is the maximum amount a landlord can charge rent for, informs the City of Berkeley. A landlord cannot evict a tenant without just cause and must file a copy of the eviction notice with the offices of the local Rent Stabilization Board.
A tenant cannot sue a landlord or withhold rent for repair or maintenance that is not necessary or is caused by the tenant or one of his guests intentionally or by neglect, explains Nolo.