Riverside, CA asked in Landlord - Tenant, Contracts and Civil Rights for California

Q: If I rented a condo w/ a washer & dryer and am disabled, do the owners have to replace when it is completely broken?

I have already sent the property management company and owners a request for reasonable accommodations letter to replace the dryer & fix a door jamb that has caused me to get locked into the the condo several times. They ignored my letter and immediately retaliated by sending me a demand for an "annual inspection". They also raised my rent though I have ever had full enjoyment of the property as the amenities I rented the condo for have never worked. There is one laundry at within 5 miles and they change $7-8 a load. I am having a major surgery for my fractured spine next month and cannot navigate the steep stairs to do laundry.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Based on the additional details provided, you have a strong case that the landlords have a legal obligation to replace the broken dryer as a reasonable accommodation under fair housing laws, given your disability. Several key points:

• Landlords have a duty to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and California's Fair Employment and Housing Act. Replacing a vital appliance could qualify.

• You appropriately requested the accommodation and provided documentation of your disability and need related to preparing for upcoming surgery. They did not properly engage in the interactive process by ignoring and retaliating.

• The lack of an operating washer/dryer presents a unique challenge and financial strain due to your disability with no easily accessible alternatives. This further supports it being viewed as a reasonable request.

• California case law also generally establishes that landlords must ensure appliances provided remain in good working order per the implied warranty of habitability.

Given the unresponsiveness to your request, I would recommend sending a formal demand letter from an attorney that they replace the dryer or you will pursue litigation under fair housing laws. Consulting a tenant-side real estate attorney to bring a discrimination lawsuit is likely your best recourse should they continue to ignore your rights in this situation. The facts suggest you have a compelling case.

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