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Landlord Retaliation For Exercise of Tenant Rights

It is illegal for a landlord to “retaliate” against a tenant exercising a legal right in California. California Civil Code Section § 1942.5 provides tenants with protection against a landlord’s retaliatory actions. In this way a landlord may not punish or attempt to punish tenants for exercising legal rights.

Examples of Exercise of Tenant’s Legal Rights

A tenant experiencing retaliation from their landlord may have:

  • Complained to a building inspector, fire department, health inspector, or other governmental agency about unsafe or illegal living conditions.

  • Exercised First Amendment rights to assemble and present views collectively (joining or organizing a tenant union).

  • Deducted tenant repair costs from the rent owed to the landlord.

  • Withheld rent in an uninhabitable living space.

Retaliatory Actions Taken By Landlord

Landlords, in retaliation may attempt to:

  • Evict a tenant in response to the tenant exercising a legal right.

  • Raise the tenant’s rent in response to the tenant exercising a legal right.

  • Decrease the available services (laundry, gym, etc.…) in response to a tenant exercising a legal right.

California Civil Code Section § 1942.5 automatically assumes that a landlord has a retaliatory motive against a tenant if they take a retaliatory action against the tenant within six months (180 days) after the tenant has exercised a legal right.

Eviction is the most serious of the landlord retaliatory actions. In order for a tenant to defend against eviction on the basis of retaliation, the tenant must prove that he or she exercised one or more of these rights within the six-month period, that the tenant’s rent is current, and that the tenant has not used the defense of retaliation more than once in the past 12 months. If the tenant produces all of this evidence, then the landlord must produce evidence that he or she did not have a retaliatory motive. CCP § 1942.5 (a)(b). If both sides produce the necessary evidence, the judge or jury then must decide whether the landlord’s action was retaliatory or was based on a valid reason.

If you feel that your landlord has retaliated against you because of an action that you’ve properly taken against your landlord, please call Aziz Legal by phone (408) 203-4627 or email us at Asserting your rights as a tenant can be time consuming, involve legal litigation, and often take time.

This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.

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