Water is an essential resource that sustains life. So, it goes without saying that California tenants are entitled to water in their rental units. But, can landlords turn off the water in California? What about the hot water heater? And, how must landlords respond to complaints regarding water service in California? This article seeks to answer some common questions California tenants may have regarding water in California.

Can the Landlord Turn off the Water in California?

No. The landlord may not turn off the water in California without notice. California Civil Code § 1941.1(a)(3); California Health & Safety Code § 17920.3; Erlach v. Sierra Asset Servicing, LLC, 226 Cal. App. 4th 1281 (2014). Where the landlord, or their agent, such as the property manager, turns off the water, the California tenant has the following claims:

  • Negligence;
  • Breach of the warranty of habitability. McNairy v. C.K. Realty, 150 Cal. App. 4th 1500, 1503-04 (2007);
  • Breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Marchese v. Standard Realty & Develop. Co., 74 Cal. App. 3d 142 (1977);
  • Nuisance. California Civil Code §§ 3479, 3481;
  • Violation of California Civil Code section 789.3; and,
  • Depending on the manner in which the landlord shuts off the water and the emotional impact suffered by the California tenant, Intentional/Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of the potential claims the California tenant may possess when their landlord turns off the water in California.

When Can the Landlord Turn off the Water in California?

The landlord may only turn off the water in California for the following reasons:

  • To make repairs, after serving proper notice;
  • In response to an emergency.  Typically, the landlord need not serve the California tenant with notice when responding to an emergency;
  • Where the California tenant’s water bill is overdue for at least sixty (60) days, and the landlord provides at least seven (7) days’ notice before terminating the water service;
    • However, the landlord cannot discontinue water service for California tenants suffering from health and financial conditions that demonstrate a willingness to make alternative payments.

Can the Landlord Turn Off the Hot Water in California?

No. California tenants are entitled to hot water at all times. California Civil Code § 1941.1(a)(3) (California tenants are entitled to water system that is, “capable of producing hot and cold running water…”). Therefore, the landlord may not turn off the hot water heater.

How Quickly Must the Landlord Respond to a California Tenant’s Complaint Regarding Water Service in California?

The landlord must respond to a California tenant’s complaint about water service immediately. Water is an essential, life-sustaining amenity to which California tenants are entitled at all times. Where a California tenant complains about water service in their rental unit, the landlord must respond immediately and work to restore water service as quickly as possible.

What is the Best Law Firm to Handle California Water Service Interruptions and Shut-Off Claims?

Astanehe Law is California’s premiere landlord-tenant law firm handling California water service interruptions and shut-off claims. Astanehe Law has successfully resolved numerous landlord-tenant cases throughout California, including California tenants facing utility interruptions. The firm only represents California tenants, and never represents landlords. It is never too early to establish a relationship with an experienced California tenant when suffering through protracted tenant harassment and retaliation that includes water shut-offs, or uninhabitable conditions that include loss of water service. Contact Astanehe Law to discuss your rights and options as a California tenant pertaining to water service interruptions and shut-offs.