California laws require all houses to be built in compliance with the local health and safety codes to preserve the quality of life in the state.
However, as the crisis of affordable housing in the state has deepened in the state, people with the lowest incomes are forced to live in unhealthy and substandard conditions.
Here is everything you should know about substandard housing in California.
What is Substandard Housing?
There are numerous definitions of substandard housing by various agencies.
However, it is widely defined as housing that does not meet the local building codes and creates safety or health hazards for its occupants.
Substandard housing conditions most frequently include lack of bathroom and kitchen facilities for a household, leaking roof, broken HVAC systems, outdated or faulty electrical systems and gas leaks.
Risks of Substandard Housing
Unsafe conditions in a house are linked with various types of risks, including;
- Life safety and health risks
- Property damage due to fire or natural disasters
- Difficulties selling the property
- Legal troubles
- Limited or completely prohibited occupancy
- Code enforcement action
- Added costs to remediate substandard work
- Fines and penalties
How Does LADBS Respond to Substandard Housing?
It is the primary responsibility of the Los Angeles Department for Building and Safety (LADBS) to bring substandard housing into compliance with the local codes, and eliminate unsafe housing conditions.
When a complaint is filed with the building department regarding substandard housing, the case is assigned to an inspector specializing in the abatement of substandard structures.
The inspector will visit your property to examine the complaint and may issue you a notice of “Notice of Violations” that could seek repair work or complete demolition within a specified timeframe.
If a house poses a life-or-death emergency, the inspector may declare it unsafe to occupy, order to vacate it and issue a “Notice and Order” seeking immediate remediation.
In the worst-case scenario, criminal charges may be pursued, and the owner/tenant can be taken to court.
Exploring Possible Solutions
The Los Angeles government prohibits homeowners and landlords from letting anyone live in substandard housing conditions until the issue is resolved.
Many times, the homeowners do not have the resources to finance the repairs needed to remedy the substandard conditions. In that case, you may seek the assistance and guidance of the public housing authority.
In Los Angeles, Housing Urban Development & Public Health Engineering Department (HUD) and non-profit organisations offer Habitat for Humanity low and no-interest loans and grants to correct substandard housing conditions.
If you live in a rented property with substandard conditions, reach out if your landlord fails to respond to your request in a timely manner.
California laws allow tenants to make necessary repairs in a substandard house on their own and deduct the cost from their rent. That amount, however, should be less than the rent that you pay in a month. If the cost of remedial work exceeds that cost, you can reach out to the Los Angeles Housing Department for assistance.
If your property under substandard housing conditions poses imminent danger, the lease may automatically be voided, and the tenants can move out immediately.
Substandard living conditions not only pose a risk to the health and physical well-being of its occupants and neighbours but also increase the risk of social isolation and poor mental health. Obtaining appropriate building permits and passing inspections ensures that your house adheres to the minimum safety standards.
Substandard Housing Remediation in Los Angeles
If you or your tenants live in substandard housing conditions, get them removed before a potential hazard turns into a catastrophe or a code enforcement action is taken against you.
Reach out to us today to discuss a possible solution for your substandard housing.