Because so many people rent now since the 2008 financial melt down it is important to understand what you are legally allowed to do as a renter in taking necessary action when your landlord is not available or cannot be reached. You can Google renter's rights and you will find a pdf that is authored by the California Department of Consumer Affairs which helps you understand what rights and responsibilities you as a renter and landlord have. I normally will reference pages 47 to 52 which covers items that are of necessity that a tenant can do in certain situations.
For Example: Let's say it is Saturday night and a pipe bursts in your property and the home is getting wet and flooded as a result. You do need to call your landlord and inform them so they can take appropriate action. But what if they are gone for the weekend or don't answer the phone? After leaving a message you then need to take necessary action to protect your family and home you are renting. Because of this being a safety concern the renter's rights document indicates you can do what is needed and basically take it off your rent. That means hiring an appropriate professional to take care of the immediate problem whether it be a plumber, water damage restoration company, mold inspections and many others.
This is not to say you have a blank check to do what you want. Do what is needed that can be reasonable justified per the renter's rights of California. Of course many landlords will not necessarily like this but they principally have to allow for it if they are not available to handle the situation or fail to take the needed action in a timely manner. You, as a renter, want to familiarize yourself with this document especially the pages mentioned. You will find that many times the landlord is not aware of these rights you have and will need to educate them on these by showing them the document and pointing out the items of concern.
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