California Renter's Rights With a Broken Heater


"Habitable" is a term that describes rental units in California. To be considered habitable, a heater must exist and work in every California rental house or apartment. If a heater breaks, there are several steps to follow.


  • Immediately call or send a letter to the landlord or manager. The landlord has a reasonable amount of time to fix or replace the heater. A reasonable amount of time may be two days during a very cold winter or up to 30 days in the summer.

Tenant Responsibility

  • The tenant must properly operate the heater. If the tenant or guests damage the heater, the tenant must pay for the repairs.

Repair and Deduct

  • If the landlord fails to repair the heater in a reasonable period of time, the tenant may arrange for the repair of the heater and deduct the cost from the rent. The repair cost must be less than one month's rent.

Withhold Rent

  • If a broken heater affects the health or safety of the tenants and the landlord does not fix the heater in a reasonable period of time, the tenant may withhold a portion or all of the rent. Tenants must keep careful records about when the heater broke and when the landlord was notified.

Move Out

  • If the broken heater is a serious problem and the landlord does not repair the unit in a reasonable period of time, the tenant may move out. The tenant is not responsible for paying the rent after the time the heater repair should have been made.

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