CACI 4342 Reduced Rent for Breach of Habitability

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

4342 Reduced Rent for Breach of Habitability

If you find that there has been a substantial breach of habitability, then you must find the reasonable reduced rental value of the property based on the uninhabitable conditions. To find this value, take the amount of monthly rent required by the [lease/rental agreement/sublease] and reduce it by the [dollar amount/ [or] percent] that you consider to reflect the uninhabitable conditions. Apply this reduction for the period of time, up to present, that the conditions were present. [You may make different reductions for different months if the conditions did not affect habitability uniformly over that period of time.]

Directions for Use

Give this instruction if the court decides that the jury should determine the reduced rental value of the premises based on a breach of the warranty of habitability. The court may instruct the jury to find a dollar reduction or a percent reduction, or may leave it up to the jury as to which approach to use. In this latter case, include both bracketed options.

Give the optional last sentence if the condition would not cause uniform hardship throughout the period. For example, the hardship caused by a broken furnace or air conditioner would vary according to the weather.

Code of Civil Procedure section 1174.2(a) provides that the court is to determine the reasonable rental value of the premises in its untenantable state up to the date of trial. But whether this determination is to be made by the court or the jury is unsettled. Section 1174.2(d) provides that nothing in this section is intended to deny the tenant the right to a trial by jury. Subsection (d) could be interpreted to mean that in a jury trial, wherever the statute says “the court,” it should be read as “the jury.” But the statute also provides that the court may order the landlord to make repairs and correct the conditions of uninhabitability, which would not be a jury function.

Sources and Authority

Breach of Warranty of Habitability. Code of Civil Procedure section 1174.2.

“The second method suggested by Green [Green v. Superior Court (1974) 10 Cal.3d 616] is to first recognize the agreed contract rent as something the two parties have agreed to as proper for the premises as impliedly warranted. Then the court should take testimony and find on the percentage reduction of habitability (or usability) by the tenant by reason of the subsequently ascertained defects. Then reduce the agreed rent by this percentage, multiply the difference by the number of months of occupancy and voila!—the tenant’s damages.” (Cazares v. Ortiz (1980) 109 Cal.App.3d Supp. 23, 29 [168 Cal.Rptr. 108].)

Secondary Sources

Friedman et al., California Practice Guide: Landlord-Tenant, Ch. 3-D, Tenant Remedies, ¶ 3:82 et seq. (The Rutter Group)
Friedman et al., California Practice Guide: Landlord-Tenant, Ch. 3-E, Tenant Remedies, ¶ 3:138 et seq. (The Rutter Group)
7 California Real Estate Law and Practice, Ch. 210, Unlawful Detainer, § 210.95A (Matthew Bender)
29 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 333, Landlord and Tenant: Eviction Actions, § 333.28 (Matthew Bender)
Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Landlord-Tenant Litigation, Ch. 5, Unlawful Detainer, 5.33, 5.36