California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

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Topic Author
cbr shadow
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California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:41 pm

I live in Northern California but I'm not directly affected by the fires or the power outages. We happen to live in an area that isn't at risk, right near San Francisco.
A couple that we are good friends with have a newborn baby and live in an area where the power was shut off. It gets too cold at night, so they were considering getting a hotel until the power comes back on, which could be 10+ days. We offered to have them stay with us until the power comes back on , which they took us up on.

Everyone at the house disagreed with me on this, but I'm not convinced by their argument; I think the landlord should take some of the financial hit of the power being shut off for long periods of time. They pay $6,000/month rent and can't even stay at the house. They're fairly new to the US and I want to be sure they're not getting taken advantage of.

I'm guessing a full review of the lease agreement is necessary. I just don't understand why the landlord should not get any risk, but the tenants take on all risk of the fires or power outages. If the lease says that the house has grid power, but now that power is turned off, is a rent discount in order?

What are Bogleheads thoughts? Am I out of line in thinking this?
This is more for my curiosity, since I don't believe the friends are comfortable pushing back on the landlord.

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:46 pm

Why is the landlord responsible for PG&E’s failure to maintain the power grid?

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CyclingDuo
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by CyclingDuo » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:49 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:41 pm
I live in Northern California but I'm not directly affected by the fires or the power outages. We happen to live in an area that isn't at risk, right near San Francisco.
A couple that we are good friends with have a newborn baby and live in an area where the power was shut off. It gets too cold at night, so they were considering getting a hotel until the power comes back on, which could be 10+ days. We offered to have them stay with us until the power comes back on , which they took us up on.

Everyone at the house disagreed with me on this, but I'm not convinced by their argument; I think the landlord should take some of the financial hit of the power being shut off for long periods of time. They pay $6,000/month rent and can't even stay at the house. They're fairly new to the US and I want to be sure they're not getting taken advantage of.

I'm guessing a full review of the lease agreement is necessary. I just don't understand why the landlord should not get any risk, but the tenants take on all risk of the fires or power outages. If the lease says that the house has grid power, but now that power is turned off, is a rent discount in order?

What are Bogleheads thoughts? Am I out of line in thinking this?
This is more for my curiosity, since I don't believe the friends are comfortable pushing back on the landlord.
A rent discount? Please.... :annoyed

The landlord is not responsible for the cuts in power. It's a crisis in the state for sure, but more to do with the state regulators and PG&E's infrastructure due to the dry conditions and high winds.
"Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time." ~ Steven Wright

surfstar
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by surfstar » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:54 pm

LL doesn't provide the power. The utility company does.

If a rental has a backup generator, Tesla Powerwall, etc - that is an amenity and they can charge higher rent for that.

If the power goes out b/c the LL failed to pay a bill, do maintenance, etc, then yes, they could withhold rent. Utility Co shuts off power: the renter, LL and everyone else in that area is out of luck.

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cbr shadow
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:56 pm

CyclingDuo wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:49 pm
cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:41 pm
I live in Northern California but I'm not directly affected by the fires or the power outages. We happen to live in an area that isn't at risk, right near San Francisco.
A couple that we are good friends with have a newborn baby and live in an area where the power was shut off. It gets too cold at night, so they were considering getting a hotel until the power comes back on, which could be 10+ days. We offered to have them stay with us until the power comes back on , which they took us up on.

Everyone at the house disagreed with me on this, but I'm not convinced by their argument; I think the landlord should take some of the financial hit of the power being shut off for long periods of time. They pay $6,000/month rent and can't even stay at the house. They're fairly new to the US and I want to be sure they're not getting taken advantage of.

I'm guessing a full review of the lease agreement is necessary. I just don't understand why the landlord should not get any risk, but the tenants take on all risk of the fires or power outages. If the lease says that the house has grid power, but now that power is turned off, is a rent discount in order?

What are Bogleheads thoughts? Am I out of line in thinking this?
This is more for my curiosity, since I don't believe the friends are comfortable pushing back on the landlord.
A rent discount? Please.... :annoyed

Yikes, I didn't think this would strike a nerve.
I'm asking the question out of curiosity, I'm not your tenant pushing back on the rent of one of your rentals.

Based on the responses so far I'm guessing the answer to ""Am I out of line in thinking this?" is yes.

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cbr shadow
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:58 pm

surfstar wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:54 pm
LL doesn't provide the power. The utility company does.

Utility Co shuts off power: the renter, LL and everyone else in that area is out of luck.
In this case the LL isn't out of luck at all. They are still getting uninterrupted rent on the home.

GAAP
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by GAAP » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:00 pm

If you sold your house, and then PG&E kept cutting power, would you give the buyer money back? If not, how is renting any different?
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” ― Bruce Lee

surfstar
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by surfstar » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:01 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:58 pm
surfstar wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:54 pm
LL doesn't provide the power. The utility company does.

Utility Co shuts off power: the renter, LL and everyone else in that area is out of luck.
In this case the LL isn't out of luck at all. They are still getting uninterrupted rent on the home.
LL could own and live in the same affected community. Who do they ask for a rent reduction?

niceguy7376
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by niceguy7376 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:02 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:58 pm
surfstar wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:54 pm
LL doesn't provide the power. The utility company does.

Utility Co shuts off power: the renter, LL and everyone else in that area is out of luck.
In this case the LL isn't out of luck at all. They are still getting uninterrupted rent on the home.
What does the lease agreements in that area say about the worst case if the house is consumed by fire. This is more of a curiosity question, just like OP.

Topic Author
cbr shadow
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:04 pm

GAAP wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:00 pm
If you sold your house, and then PG&E kept cutting power, would you give the buyer money back? If not, how is renting any different?
No I wouldn't.. but I don't think that's a reasonable example.
If I sold my house and later the roof had a leak I wouldn't cover it, but a landlord would cover it. The same goes for a leaky pipe, broken mechanical system, a fence falling over, and a million other examples.

fabdog
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by fabdog » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:07 pm

Based on the responses so far I'm guessing the answer to ""Am I out of line in thinking this?" is yes.
You have accurately assessed the answers.

To help with a logical analogy, assume an explosion at a substation took out power to your friends house. Do you think they'd be entitled to a rent reduction from their landlord? If so, why? If not, how is this different

Mike

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cbr shadow
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:07 pm

surfstar wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:01 pm
cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:58 pm
surfstar wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:54 pm
LL doesn't provide the power. The utility company does.

Utility Co shuts off power: the renter, LL and everyone else in that area is out of luck.
In this case the LL isn't out of luck at all. They are still getting uninterrupted rent on the home.
LL could own and live in the same affected community. Who do they ask for a rent reduction?
I think this is a bad example since if they OWN the property it's clear that the risk is all theirs.. Similar to what would happen if there was a leaky pipe that caused mold.. The tenant would expect a LL to fix it. If the LL owned his own home he doesn't have a LL to fall back on, so he must fix it himself.
This example seems super clear to me.

renue74
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by renue74 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:07 pm

LL not responsible for power grid.

In my state landlord IS responsible for:

"The landlord must provide running water, reasonable amounts of hot water and reasonable heat. landlord must keep in reasonably good and safe working order and condition all electrical, gas, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances supplied, or required to be supplied by him."

All of those systems...within the house. Not the systems powering to the house such as the grid, water supply, etc. A LL can't guarantee running water from the city all the time....but they must be responsible for having the pipes in the home that are in working condition and ready to receive water from the supply.
Last edited by renue74 on Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mervinj7
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by mervinj7 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:08 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:56 pm
Yikes, I didn't think this would strike a nerve.
I'm asking the question out of curiosity, I'm not your tenant pushing back on the rent of one of your rentals.

Based on the responses so far I'm guessing the answer to ""Am I out of line in thinking this?" is yes.
I don't think it's out of line. Whatever peoples' opinions and responses may be, the correct answer is that it depends on the state laws applicable to the rental property in question. For example, in NY, there's legal precedent for not paying rent if you don't have power. I'm not aware of a similar case in CA, however.
When the court wrote, “acts of third parties or natural disaster are within the scope of the warranty as well,” it was making clear that it does not have to be the landlord’s fault or anyone’s fault that the apartment has become unlivable. The court is just saying that for whatever reason the apartment becomes unlivable, the tenant does not have to pay the rent during the unlivable period.
https://www.alblawfirm.com/articles/are ... ide-power/

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cbr shadow
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:11 pm

fabdog wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:07 pm
Based on the responses so far I'm guessing the answer to ""Am I out of line in thinking this?" is yes.
You have accurately assessed the answers.

To help with a logical analogy, assume an explosion at a substation took out power to your friends house. Do you think they'd be entitled to a rent reduction from their landlord? If so, why? If not, how is this different

Mike
I would have originally thought yes, that they do deserve a rent reduction where an explosion at a substation took out power to the house. My thought being that I'm guaranteed access to electricity living in this house. Again, based on the responses above I see that I'm likely incorrect in this.

To take this further though.. If a tornado came through and damaged the home to the point it's not livable for a while, does the tenant deserve a rent break then? What if "for a while" is a month? 3 months?

RetiredAL
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by RetiredAL » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:13 pm

CyclingDuo wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:49 pm


The landlord is not responsible for the cuts in power. It's a crisis in the state for sure, but more to do with the state regulators and PG&E's infrastructure due to the dry conditions and high winds.
+++1

IMO, this a direct consequence of poor long-term leadership at the state level. We now have a 3rd world power system. With the right orders, power could be back on today.

Our family has a mountain home that has had no power since Sunday. I don't expect to see it restored until Friday. Night temp's have been in the low 30's. OK, I am not there and thus I personally am not freezing cold, but many people do live there. However, our house does require electricity to prevent pipes from freezing.

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cbr shadow
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:14 pm

renue74 wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:07 pm
LL not responsible for power grid.

In my state landlord IS responsible for:

"The landlord must provide running water, reasonable amounts of hot water and reasonable heat. landlord must keep in reasonably good and safe working order and condition all electrical, gas, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances supplied, or required to be supplied by him."

All of those systems...within the house. Not the systems powering to the house such as the grid, water supply, etc. A LL can't guarantee running water from the city all the time....but they must be responsible for having the pipes in the home that are in working condition and ready to receive water from the supply.
"Reasonable heat" isn't possible in their place currently. Their newborn is too cold at night because the furnace is electric.

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cbr shadow
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:35 pm

mervinj7 wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:08 pm
cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:56 pm
Yikes, I didn't think this would strike a nerve.
I'm asking the question out of curiosity, I'm not your tenant pushing back on the rent of one of your rentals.

Based on the responses so far I'm guessing the answer to ""Am I out of line in thinking this?" is yes.
I don't think it's out of line. Whatever peoples' opinions and responses may be, the correct answer is that it depends on the state laws applicable to the rental property in question. For example, in NY, there's legal precedent for not paying rent if you don't have power. I'm not aware of a similar case in CA, however.
When the court wrote, “acts of third parties or natural disaster are within the scope of the warranty as well,” it was making clear that it does not have to be the landlord’s fault or anyone’s fault that the apartment has become unlivable. The court is just saying that for whatever reason the apartment becomes unlivable, the tenant does not have to pay the rent during the unlivable period.
https://www.alblawfirm.com/articles/are ... ide-power/
Thank you for posting this. Although this is a different state, it goes to show that I'm not way out of line for thinking this.

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JoeRetire
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by JoeRetire » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:43 pm

never mind
Last edited by JoeRetire on Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Don't be a lemming.

renue74
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by renue74 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:45 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:14 pm
renue74 wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:07 pm
LL not responsible for power grid.

In my state landlord IS responsible for:

"The landlord must provide running water, reasonable amounts of hot water and reasonable heat. landlord must keep in reasonably good and safe working order and condition all electrical, gas, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances supplied, or required to be supplied by him."

All of those systems...within the house. Not the systems powering to the house such as the grid, water supply, etc. A LL can't guarantee running water from the city all the time....but they must be responsible for having the pipes in the home that are in working condition and ready to receive water from the supply.
"Reasonable heat" isn't possible in their place currently. Their newborn is too cold at night because the furnace is electric.
But you're not understanding what others have said also.

"Reasonable heat" doesn't mean a LL is to supply power through the electrical supply of the house.

"Reasonable heat" means that the LL is to supply a heater....whether central heat or gas heat or whatever.

What if a tenant stopped paying their electric bill and the city turned off the power (happens quiet often with tenants)? Is the LL responsible for turning on the power and paying the power bill for the tenant? No...he/she is not responsible. LL is only responsible for having safe electrical wiring in the house.

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cbr shadow
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:49 pm

JoeRetire wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:43 pm
cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:41 pm
I'm guessing a full review of the lease agreement is necessary. I just don't understand why the landlord should not get any risk, but the tenants take on all risk of the fires or power outages. If the lease says that the house has grid power, but now that power is turned off, is a rent discount in order?

What are Bogleheads thoughts? Am I out of line in thinking this?
If a hurricane knocked out power for days, should the landlord be required to discount the rent?
I don't think you read all the posts above before posting (I'm guilty of this in the past), but a similar question came up above.

researcher
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by researcher » Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:07 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:11 pm
My thought being that I'm guaranteed access to electricity living in this house.
You think all renters are "guaranteed" access to electricity by the landlord?
How could a landlord possibly guarantee this, short of having their own on-site power generation equipment?

A critical flaw to your argument...
The landlord is NOT the tenant's electricity provider.
The tenant has an agreement/contract with the power company to supply electric, not the landlord.
Why would the landlord discount rent? The tenant's issues with the power company has nothing to do with the landlord.

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Abe
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by Abe » Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:30 pm

For questions like this, I would ask the question, "who is at fault?" I would say if someones power was shut off, it would be the utility companies fault, not the landlords fault. Of course, if the utility company had a legitimate reason for shutting off the power, it a may be a different story.
Last edited by Abe on Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Slow and steady wins the race.

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cbr shadow
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:34 pm

researcher wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:07 pm
cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:11 pm
My thought being that I'm guaranteed access to electricity living in this house.
You think all renters are "guaranteed" access to electricity by the landlord?
How could a landlord possibly guarantee this, short of having their own on-site power generation equipment?

A critical flaw to your argument...
The landlord is NOT the tenant's electricity provider.
The tenant has an agreement/contract with the power company to supply electric, not the landlord.
Why would the landlord discount rent? The tenant's issues with the power company has nothing to do with the landlord.
All fair points. I do understand that the landlord isn't he tenant's electricity provider.

A poster above added a link showing there's legal precedent for not paying rent if you don't have power. They consider the place "unlivable" without power. I'm not sure how California handles that though, since we don't have the brutal winters that NY does.
Would you make the same argument if this exact topic was posted for New York, or was your response factoring in that this was in California?

Big Dog
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by Big Dog » Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:52 pm

a wild fire requiring a power down is an Act of God. Not gonna be covered by the Lease. Moreover, the shutdowns are approved/required? by the State PUC, so the landlord has less than zero control. As my dad was fond of saying, you are barking up the wrong tree.

rascott
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by rascott » Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:58 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:56 pm
CyclingDuo wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:49 pm
cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:41 pm
I live in Northern California but I'm not directly affected by the fires or the power outages. We happen to live in an area that isn't at risk, right near San Francisco.
A couple that we are good friends with have a newborn baby and live in an area where the power was shut off. It gets too cold at night, so they were considering getting a hotel until the power comes back on, which could be 10+ days. We offered to have them stay with us until the power comes back on , which they took us up on.

Everyone at the house disagreed with me on this, but I'm not convinced by their argument; I think the landlord should take some of the financial hit of the power being shut off for long periods of time. They pay $6,000/month rent and can't even stay at the house. They're fairly new to the US and I want to be sure they're not getting taken advantage of.

I'm guessing a full review of the lease agreement is necessary. I just don't understand why the landlord should not get any risk, but the tenants take on all risk of the fires or power outages. If the lease says that the house has grid power, but now that power is turned off, is a rent discount in order?

What are Bogleheads thoughts? Am I out of line in thinking this?
This is more for my curiosity, since I don't believe the friends are comfortable pushing back on the landlord.
A rent discount? Please.... :annoyed

Yikes, I didn't think this would strike a nerve.
I'm asking the question out of curiosity, I'm not your tenant pushing back on the rent of one of your rentals.

Based on the responses so far I'm guessing the answer to ""Am I out of line in thinking this?" is yes.


Yes, you are.

Shallowpockets
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by Shallowpockets » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:14 pm

Where is this that the heat outage makes it too cold?
How cold are we talking?

scophreak
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by scophreak » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:14 pm

I think there is a relevant question here overall. Not saying the LL is at fault, but to me this revolves around the question of habitability. If a home had no running water for an extended period of time, would it be considered habitable? By my understanding, running water is a condition of habitability. What would be the tenant's remedy in this case? What if the loss of water was due to utility deferred maintenance leading to major line rupture and replacement? While not the LL's responsibility it doesn't change the fact that the home that is being rented is not habitable.

Seems that this is something that is governed by 1) the written lease agreement, and 2) the LL/tenant laws of the specific state in question.

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unclescrooge
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by unclescrooge » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:15 pm

niceguy7376 wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:02 pm
cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:58 pm
surfstar wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:54 pm
LL doesn't provide the power. The utility company does.

Utility Co shuts off power: the renter, LL and everyone else in that area is out of luck.
In this case the LL isn't out of luck at all. They are still getting uninterrupted rent on the home.
What does the lease agreements in that area say about the worst case if the house is consumed by fire. This is more of a curiosity question, just like OP.
I guess their renter's policy would cover them? Or the landlord's policy would pay them for a few weeks while they found alternate accommodation.

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cbr shadow
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:36 pm

Shallowpockets wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:14 pm
Where is this that the heat outage makes it too cold?
How cold are we talking?
Low 40's at night. Someone here might say "throw on a sweater" but they have a newborn baby in the poorly insulated house. They're on a cliff side where fog rolls through. I went into their house at 10:00AM and it was so cold in the house that you could just start to see your breath.

researcher
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by researcher » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:38 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:34 pm
All fair points. I do understand that the landlord isn't he tenant's electricity provider.

A poster above added a link showing there's legal precedent for not paying rent if you don't have power. They consider the place "unlivable" without power. I'm not sure how California handles that though, since we don't have the brutal winters that NY does.
Would you make the same argument if this exact topic was posted for New York, or was your response factoring in that this was in California?
You are pulling legal "precedent" from a random real estate attorney's website.
You don't think he'd post information/opinions that might skewed to bolster his business, do you?

Regardless, my response applies to tenants in all 50 states.
Your friends MIGHT be without power for 10 days. At what point does the rent abatement kick in?
After 1 hour, 12 hours, 1 day?

I guess you just need to hire Adam Leitman Bailey to fight for the rent discount you deserve!

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cbr shadow
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:52 pm

researcher wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:38 pm
cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:34 pm
All fair points. I do understand that the landlord isn't he tenant's electricity provider.

A poster above added a link showing there's legal precedent for not paying rent if you don't have power. They consider the place "unlivable" without power. I'm not sure how California handles that though, since we don't have the brutal winters that NY does.
Would you make the same argument if this exact topic was posted for New York, or was your response factoring in that this was in California?
You are pulling legal "precedent" from a random real estate attorney's website.
You don't think he'd post information/opinions that might skewed to bolster his business, do you?

Regardless, my response applies to tenants in all 50 states.
Your friends MIGHT be without power for 10 days. At what point does the rent abatement kick in?
After 1 hour, 12 hours, 1 day?

I guess you just need to hire Adam Leitman Bailey to fight for the rent discount you deserve!
I'm not sure why you read the OP incorrectly or not, but I'm not looking to get a rent discount, and I don't think I deserve a rent discount. Your post isn't especially helpful or funny, so I'm guessing you misread!

I do think this thread is reaching the end of its usefulness. My goal was to get the opinions of people here, and I've gotten them. Weirdly, people who disagree with me post on the thread, but I've now received (4) DM's giving the opposite advice and opinions. I'm not sure why those comments weren't just posted on the thread.
Last edited by cbr shadow on Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

scophreak
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by scophreak » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:53 pm

researcher wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:38 pm
cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:34 pm
All fair points. I do understand that the landlord isn't he tenant's electricity provider.

A poster above added a link showing there's legal precedent for not paying rent if you don't have power. They consider the place "unlivable" without power. I'm not sure how California handles that though, since we don't have the brutal winters that NY does.
Would you make the same argument if this exact topic was posted for New York, or was your response factoring in that this was in California?
You are pulling legal "precedent" from a random real estate attorney's website.
You don't think he'd post information/opinions that might skewed to bolster his business, do you?

Regardless, my response applies to tenants in all 50 states.
Your friends MIGHT be without power for 10 days. At what point does the rent abatement kick in?
After 1 hour, 12 hours, 1 day?

I guess you just need to hire Adam Leitman Bailey to fight for the rent discount you deserve!
I would be wary of providing (or appearing to provide) legal advice on a public forum. As I mentioned in my reply, the governing documents here would be the written lease and the state's specific LL/tenant laws. While logic might apply across all 50 states, LL/tenant laws vary widely and even seemingly supersede logic at times :D

CFM300
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by CFM300 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:58 pm

If I were the landlord, I would offer a discount on rent. No, it's not the landlord's fault. But it's not the tenant's fault either. The landlord is lucky that the house is currently rented.

chevca
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by chevca » Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:17 pm

The reasonableness standard, to me here, is, what control does the landlord have over any natural disaster, wildfire, or any decision a power company make due to a wildfire?.... If the answer is none, they have no responsibility to financially compensate the renter.

If the landlord screwed up, cut a line in the yard, didn't pay the bill, got in trouble with the county, or something along these lines of things they have control over, then, yes, I'd say they have a responsibility to compensate the renter.

OP, you're thinking is out of line because the example(s) you brought up are things the landlord has NO control over.

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cbr shadow
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by cbr shadow » Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:32 pm

chevca wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:17 pm
The reasonableness standard, to me here, is, what control does the landlord have over any natural disaster, wildfire, or any decision a power company make due to a wildfire?.... If the answer is none, they have no responsibility to financially compensate the renter.

If the landlord screwed up, cut a line in the yard, didn't pay the bill, got in trouble with the county, or something along these lines of things they have control over, then, yes, I'd say they have a responsibility to compensate the renter.

OP, you're thinking is out of line because the example(s) you brought up are things the landlord has NO control over.
I'm sure we've gone through this point a few times in this thread already, and I do understand your point. We would agree though that if the wind knocked down a fence in the backyard that the LL would cover it right? The wind isn't the LL's fault any less than the fire that caused the power outages.

Starfish
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by Starfish » Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:45 pm

I don't don't think your question is unreasonable (and I am a landlord, I have been a renter for long time).
IMO if PGE paid to the homeowners some kind of compensations, it would make sense to transfer the compensation to the affected party (the renter).
But as PGE does not pay anything, there is nothing to be paid in the landlord/tenant relationship.
I specifically pay PGE for electricity, a service they do not provide these days, but they pay no penalties.

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indexfundfan
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by indexfundfan » Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:09 pm

I think there was talk of PG&E reimbursing the customers for the power shutdown. Who gets the reimbursement? The tenant or the landlord?
My signature has been deleted.

Mr. Rumples
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by Mr. Rumples » Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:15 pm

Every state is different. In Colorado's 416 Fire last year, this issue gained a lot of press. As far as the press reports go, under Colorado law, unless there was a clause in the lease, the renter was out of luck. If the home was inhabitable under the terms of the lease and the law, the landlord met the obligation. However, if the house was damaged by the fire, then the lease provisions regarding providing a habitable home kicks in. However, during the evacuation, the landlord would have fulfilled their obligation. The renter should have a provision whereby the insurance would provide for housing costs. However, after the fires Westfork Fires in 2012 some insurance companies pulled out of the state, others made sure they would not be liable for housing during evacuations.

The question would be if the lease covers this and if its covered by California law. In Virginia, there is such a thing as a court escrow account where during landlord / tenant disputes, the tenant files the paperwork and pays the court the rent. The court then makes a decision, but in at least one case in Tidewater, the court ruled that landlord met the obligation.

smitcat
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by smitcat » Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:26 pm

indexfundfan wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:09 pm
I think there was talk of PG&E reimbursing the customers for the power shutdown. Who gets the reimbursement? The tenant or the landlord?
None likely available to speak of....
If the electric service is in the tenants name they may get a small stipend for lost service but its very limited unless there was/is direct damage to the home/apartment due to PG&E. More details on this link....

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/art ... 502325.php

researcher
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by researcher » Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:21 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:52 pm
I'm not sure why you read the OP incorrectly or not, but I'm not looking to get a rent discount, and I don't think I deserve a rent discount. Your post isn't especially helpful or funny, so I'm guessing you misread!
Have you forgotten what you've previously written?
In your very first post, and a subsequent post, you stated the following...
- Is a rent discount in order?
- I would have originally thought yes, that they do deserve a rent reduction


Interesting that you don't find my posts especially helpful anymore, given that you previously stated "all fair points" on my last post.

Kennedy
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by Kennedy » Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:40 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:32 pm
chevca wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:17 pm
The reasonableness standard, to me here, is, what control does the landlord have over any natural disaster, wildfire, or any decision a power company make due to a wildfire?.... If the answer is none, they have no responsibility to financially compensate the renter.

If the landlord screwed up, cut a line in the yard, didn't pay the bill, got in trouble with the county, or something along these lines of things they have control over, then, yes, I'd say they have a responsibility to compensate the renter.

OP, you're thinking is out of line because the example(s) you brought up are things the landlord has NO control over.
I'm sure we've gone through this point a few times in this thread already, and I do understand your point. We would agree though that if the wind knocked down a fence in the backyard that the LL would cover it right? The wind isn't the LL's fault any less than the fire that caused the power outages.
Repair of the fence and bringing it back to the original condition is within the landlord's control. The power company cutting power is not within the landlord's control. The two are not equivalent.

Kennedy
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by Kennedy » Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:43 pm

The tenant should have purchased renters insurance, which would have paid for a hotel room in this case.

Lee_WSP
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by Lee_WSP » Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:49 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:34 pm
researcher wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:07 pm
cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:11 pm
My thought being that I'm guaranteed access to electricity living in this house.
You think all renters are "guaranteed" access to electricity by the landlord?
How could a landlord possibly guarantee this, short of having their own on-site power generation equipment?

A critical flaw to your argument...
The landlord is NOT the tenant's electricity provider.
The tenant has an agreement/contract with the power company to supply electric, not the landlord.
Why would the landlord discount rent? The tenant's issues with the power company has nothing to do with the landlord.
All fair points. I do understand that the landlord isn't he tenant's electricity provider.

A poster above added a link showing there's legal precedent for not paying rent if you don't have power. They consider the place "unlivable" without power. I'm not sure how California handles that though, since we don't have the brutal winters that NY does.
Would you make the same argument if this exact topic was posted for New York, or was your response factoring in that this was in California?
That is an incorrect conclusion.

NY law apparently provides an explicit warranty of habitability in their state law, at least as it applies to rent controlled leases. The warranty also covers acts of third parties. You can go read the law here: https://nchh.org/resource-library/Unifo ... 0URLTA.pdf

The next question to come to the conclusion you've made is whether California also provides for such a warranty AND whether that warranty is unqualified as is New York's.

Here, I've done the googling for you.

https://tenantdefenders.mobi/the-right- ... alifornia/

stlutz
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by stlutz » Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:51 pm

I think the responses on this thread are somewhat reflective of the fact that people on BH are more likely to be landlords than renters.

Is there a difference between:

--There is a problem with a buried line entering the house that takes 10 days to fix.
--There is a problem that causes the power to be out affecting only one street. For whatever reason it takes 10 days to fix.
--The power company shuts off power to the entire county because of wildfire risk and it takes 10 days for the power to come back on.

It's commonly noted that renting a home is more expensive than buying the same home. It's risks like this that the renter is paying money to offload onto the landlord. The landlord is responsible for actually providing a habitable home, not for giving it a good try.

All of that said, I'd expect to see a bunch of small claims cases arise out of all of this.

researcher
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by researcher » Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:54 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:32 pm
We would agree though that if the wind knocked down a fence in the backyard that the LL would cover it right? The wind isn't the LL's fault any less than the fire that caused the power outages.
Agree with the previous poster.

The landlord IS responsible for repairing the fence/electric line/water line/ect. WITHIN THE LANDLORD'S PROPERTY.

The landlord IS NOT responsible for traveling 25 miles to the closest power substation, trespassing on private power company property, and tinkering with their electrical grid.

TomCat96
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by TomCat96 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:57 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:56 pm
CyclingDuo wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:49 pm
cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:41 pm
I live in Northern California but I'm not directly affected by the fires or the power outages. We happen to live in an area that isn't at risk, right near San Francisco.
A couple that we are good friends with have a newborn baby and live in an area where the power was shut off. It gets too cold at night, so they were considering getting a hotel until the power comes back on, which could be 10+ days. We offered to have them stay with us until the power comes back on , which they took us up on.

Everyone at the house disagreed with me on this, but I'm not convinced by their argument; I think the landlord should take some of the financial hit of the power being shut off for long periods of time. They pay $6,000/month rent and can't even stay at the house. They're fairly new to the US and I want to be sure they're not getting taken advantage of.

I'm guessing a full review of the lease agreement is necessary. I just don't understand why the landlord should not get any risk, but the tenants take on all risk of the fires or power outages. If the lease says that the house has grid power, but now that power is turned off, is a rent discount in order?

What are Bogleheads thoughts? Am I out of line in thinking this?
This is more for my curiosity, since I don't believe the friends are comfortable pushing back on the landlord.
A rent discount? Please.... :annoyed

Yikes, I didn't think this would strike a nerve.
I'm asking the question out of curiosity, I'm not your tenant pushing back on the rent of one of your rentals.

Based on the responses so far I'm guessing the answer to ""Am I out of line in thinking this?" is yes.

You are not out of line to ask this question. I suspect there are those here who have been a landlord for so long they take the question as a personal affront to them, for it would mean that they might be financially accountable for things they do not wish to be accountable for.

It's honestly a great question. I couldn't find the answer. Nevertheless, look up "implied warranty of habitability" and "constructive eviction" in california. I can't tell you the exact answer, but I can tell you as a general rule the lease controls the relationship, however leases are usually void where they contravene state law on the matter.

For instance, if a lease said, you waive your right to the "implied warranty of habitability", and tenant signed it, that wouldn't fly.

In this case, you would be looking for a state law or rule on the matter of external conditions or acts of God which render the premise uninhabitable.

Uncertain certain conditions, tenant may have the right to break the lease.

retired@50
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by retired@50 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:03 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:34 pm
researcher wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:07 pm
cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:11 pm
My thought being that I'm guaranteed access to electricity living in this house.
You think all renters are "guaranteed" access to electricity by the landlord?
How could a landlord possibly guarantee this, short of having their own on-site power generation equipment?

A critical flaw to your argument...
The landlord is NOT the tenant's electricity provider.
The tenant has an agreement/contract with the power company to supply electric, not the landlord.
Why would the landlord discount rent? The tenant's issues with the power company has nothing to do with the landlord.
All fair points. I do understand that the landlord isn't he tenant's electricity provider.

A poster above added a link showing there's legal precedent for not paying rent if you don't have power. They consider the place "unlivable" without power. I'm not sure how California handles that though, since we don't have the brutal winters that NY does.
Would you make the same argument if this exact topic was posted for New York, or was your response factoring in that this was in California?
I would think it might depend upon who's name is on the power bill from PG&E? I think the billed person is the customer and has any possible recourse.
Suppose a tenant added cable TV service to the rental home, and it was out... Would the tenant go after the landlord or the cable provider?

chevca
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by chevca » Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:33 pm

cbr shadow wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:32 pm
chevca wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2019 4:17 pm
The reasonableness standard, to me here, is, what control does the landlord have over any natural disaster, wildfire, or any decision a power company make due to a wildfire?.... If the answer is none, they have no responsibility to financially compensate the renter.

If the landlord screwed up, cut a line in the yard, didn't pay the bill, got in trouble with the county, or something along these lines of things they have control over, then, yes, I'd say they have a responsibility to compensate the renter.

OP, you're thinking is out of line because the example(s) you brought up are things the landlord has NO control over.
I'm sure we've gone through this point a few times in this thread already, and I do understand your point. We would agree though that if the wind knocked down a fence in the backyard that the LL would cover it right? The wind isn't the LL's fault any less than the fire that caused the power outages.
But, you don't understand. Again, the reasonableness standard you lack is what the landlord can control. And, your latest example is apples and oranges.

The wind and the fence thing... no, LL can't control the wind. But, it is the LL's fence and responsibility to fix. Fixing it is in no way what-so-ever reimbursing the renter for anything. It may be an insurance claim for the LL, or just out of pocket if a low dollar amount. The LL can control that situation by fixing it themselves, or calling a handyman or fence company.

Beyond calling the power company in the original situation you brought up to ask, 'what's up with the power... when will it be back on', what control does the LL have over the power outage? Answer.... none.

To others... my answer are just based on reasonableness. I'm not answering as a landlord or a renter. Just a reasonable person.

This thread can probably be closed, yes? What useful info are you gathering by what-if'ing this to death, OP?

Lee_WSP
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Re: California Fires: Landlord/Tenant Question

Post by Lee_WSP » Tue Oct 29, 2019 7:48 pm

It could’ve been easily answered via a fifteen minute call with a California LL/T attorney.

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