|How The California Wildfires Impact Landlord and Renters Rights
The recent wildfires that impacted Northern California were devastating. Thousands of acres were destroyed in a series of wildfires that swept the region, leaving many without homes. Now, families, individuals, businesses and communities are left dealing with the aftermath of those tragic wildfires, trying to figure out how to move on and rebuild. According to CAL Fire, more than 245,000 acres were burned due to a total of 21 major fires that destroyed about 8,900 structures, caused 100,000 people to evacuate and, sadly, left 43 people dead.
And according to the Sacramento Bee, about 5% of Santa Rosa’s housing region was destroyed during the fires, with many more out of its limits destroyed and gone. Major concern at the moment is housing for those who have lost everything in the wildfires. The newspaper printed that rents have seen an increase in the last few years, with vacancy rates at about 1%. Right now, a lot of state and resources are stretched thin because of other disasters elsewhere, while some have found that their insurance polies won’t cover the cost it takes to rebuild. Then there are others who don’t even have home or renter’s insurance, which means rebuilding can be a daunting task in the near future. Landlords and property managers need to know what their responsibilities are for tenants who have been displaced, while tenants need to know what rights they have, too.
In California, rental property owners and managers need to uphold the Implied Warranty of Habitability for renters, with means the unit has to be habitable for humans and must comply with local and state codes fro the tenants’ safety and health. While rebuilding happens, many renters will turn to this implied warranty, asking their landlords to give them temporary housing while the property is being rebuilt. And if a tenant has to relocate temporarily while the property is being repaired, they don’t have to pay any rent during this time if the property is not habitable.
BUT, if the property is totally destroyed, the rental lease will become terminated and the landlord doesn’t have to provide any temporary housing. But if it’s only partially destroyed, the tenant can terminate the lease.
So if a rental was destroyed in the wildfires, tenants who have renters insurance can use it to help cover the costs of their things. There are several relief and recovery stations in various communities for displaced residents to get more information and resources. Displaced tenants will most likely have to find new rental housing, and the sad part is that rental prices are tripling in many areas.