If one were in Orange County in California and moved into a rental property where the landlord guaranteed heating/gas/hot water, but there was an issue in the gas line to the apartment complex and this gas was shut off for the complex, what steps could one take? Would it be considered valid to withhold rent or would one have to take the landlord to court before withholding? If this incident happened more than 1 month ago (30 days is the maximum “reasonable” duration for fixing, from what I can find), would it be legal for actions to be taken on previous rent paid while this issue was unresolved?

This is similar to this question, but that question presupposes the issue has been remedied.

2 Answers 2


Your property is considered uninhabitable in California.


A dwelling may be considered uninhabitable (unlivable) if it substantially lacks any of the following: ...• Plumbing facilities in good working order, including hot and cold running water furnished to appropriate fixtures, connected to a sewage disposal system.

Talk to your local government assistance agency. You may be able to withold rent.



Talk to the landlord

You do not have a right to withhold rent unless the property is uninhabitable. And even then, be careful. Failing to pay your rent is grounds for eviction.

You are entitled to damages for the landlord’s breach of the contract assuming that the lease does not contain terms absolving the landlord for matters beyond their control. Many do.

The amount of the damages and if they can be withheld from the rent would need to be agreed or determined by a court.

  • Does not having gas not make in uninhabitable? This means there is no hot water, no heating, no laundry, no dryers, etc etc. I'm unsure what to do because on one hand this situation would not be entirely the landlords fault (if he was late to notify about this, would this matter) and the situation would be getting fixed but the estimate for fixing would be well beyond the 30 day norm.
    – user760900
    Commented Aug 22, 2023 at 21:16
  • Are there norms about how much in damages/discount off of rent can be withheld or is this uncommon enough that there is minimal precedent? In this case, would there be a normal discount I would be able to point to when talking to the landlord before taking the situation to court?
    – user760900
    Commented Aug 22, 2023 at 21:20
  • @user760900 yes. The damage you suffered is the damage you suffered: the direct costs of dealing with the lack of gas, plus an amount for loss of amenity.
    – Dale M
    Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 3:20
  • Can you quote a law for your first sentence? In general, the moment the landlord does not provide something that is specified in the rental contract regardless of whether it is significant enough to make the place uninhabitable they are in breach of contract which gives the tenant rights to retaliate.
    – quarague
    Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 13:15

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