Family upset about apartment living conditions

A family contacted 23ABC after they've had several problems in the apartment they live in.

They've been experiencing electrical problems, holes in the roof, and a heater that was leaking gas, then caught fire after the manager hired a handyman to fix it, the family told 23ABC.

The family called PG&E who shut off the gas immediately, Darcy Singer told 23ABC. Then two weeks later, the management hired an electrician to fix the problem.

"So for two weeks we were without heat and we were all cold. I don't think the apartment owner is taking these problems too seriously, otherwise she would have them fixed faster," said Singer.

The management would not speak to 23ABC but told the tenant that they would have the roof fixed this week.

For the past three months, there has been a blue tarp on the roof covering the hole and there is mold on the ceiling inside the bedroom, Singer told 23ABC.

"I would just like the environment to be safe for my family to live in, no mold, no fire hazard , no gas leaking," said Singer.

Anyone dealing with uninhabitable living conditions should first contact code enforcement. Additionally, if landlord does not address the issues in a reasonable time, you may be able to withhold rent or repair the damage yourself,  then deduct that amount off your rent.

"The law creates a lot of protections for tenants, but you have to fulfill your responsibilities under the law before you can avail yourself to that," said Lily Marshall-Bass, Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance.

However you cant just stop paying your rent or fix the issues and deduct the rent, you have to do it in the proper way.

"The main thing is to make sure these issues are serious enough before you let these remedies kick in, because it's not something to take lightly," said Marshall-Bass.

For more information about your rights and responsibilities, contact Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance. Renters do have rights when it comes to where they live. To see a list of these rights, click here.

GBLA is a non-profit legal services program providing free legal assistance in civil matters to low-income and seniors residing in Kern County.

The family has considered moving out of the apartment, but because they live paycheck to paycheck, they say it would be difficult saving enough money to move into a new place.

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