With Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns forcing the continued shutter of shared spaces throughout the state, many California tenants in apartment and condominium complexes have lost the use of their gyms, pools, gaming rooms, meeting rooms, community rooms, and other amenities for nearly a year.  Understandably, some California tenants inquire about obtaining a decrease in rent corresponding to the value of lost or reduced amenities. While tenants and landlords remain free to negotiate rent reductions, the California Legislature recently addressed the matter as part of the framework enacted in response to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the recently updated California Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic Eviction Moratorium, the California Legislature expressly addressed the situation.  “Notwithstanding any other law, a landlord who temporarily reduces or makes unavailable a service or amenity as a result of compliance with federal, state, or local public health orders or guidelines shall not be considered to have violated the rental or lease agreement, nor to have provided different terms or conditions of tenancy or reduced services for purposes of any law, ordinance, rule, regulation, or initiative measure…”  California Civil Code § 1942.9.  Although parties remain free to negotiate rent decreases due to Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic-related loss or reduction of amenities or services, this provision makes obtaining a rent decrease at a local rent board or return of rent in court unlikely.

Please note that for this provision to apply, the loss or reduction of service or amenity must be:

  1. Temporary; and,
  2. The result of complying with a Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic-related federal, state, or local, public health order or guideline.

If the loss or reduction of the service or the amenity does not meet these two requirements, California Civil Code section 1942.9(b) does not apply.  The California tenant may pursue all available legal remedies.