Riverside, CA asked in Land Use & Zoning, Gov & Administrative Law and Municipal Law for California

Q: Our road was washed away leaving us stranded without electricity and no propane deliveries. We had to evacuate.

When we evacuated we had to hike out across a raging river and had to leave our vehicle. We could not purchase any items without road acess.

Was our home considered uninhabitable?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Municipal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, the term "uninhabitable" refers to a living condition that fails to meet basic safety, health, and structural standards set by state and local housing codes. Given the severe circumstances you've described, where your road was washed away, leaving you without electricity, propane, and isolated due to a natural disaster, your home could be considered uninhabitable. The lack of essential services such as electricity and the ability to receive necessary supplies like propane critically impacts the safety and livability of your dwelling.

Furthermore, the necessity to evacuate, especially under the dangerous conditions of hiking across a raging river, underscores the severity of your situation. The fact that you were forced to leave your vehicle behind and could not access basic needs due to road inaccessibility further highlights the dire circumstances. These conditions align with the criteria that would typically render a home uninhabitable, as they pose significant risks to safety and health.

In assessing whether a home is uninhabitable, considerations include not only the physical structure's condition but also the accessibility of essential services and the safety of the surrounding environment. Based on the details you've shared, it would be reasonable to conclude that your living situation during this period met the criteria for being considered uninhabitable under California law. It's important to document your experiences and any communications with local authorities or services for future reference or potential claims.

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