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California Landlord Retaliation Against Tenant Prohibited

The California Civil Code, Chapter 2, Section 1942.5 prohibits landlords from taking retaliatory actions against tenants that have exercised their rights under the law.

Actions Within 180 Days

If the lessor retaliates against the lessee because of the exercise by the lessee of his or her rights under this chapter or because of his complaint to an appropriate agency as to tenantability of a dwelling, and if the lessee of a dwelling is not in default as to the payment of his or her rent, the lessor may not recover possession of a dwelling in any action or proceeding, cause the lessee to quit involuntarily, increase the rent, or decrease any services within 180 days of any of the following:

  • After the date upon which the lessee, in good faith, has given notice pursuant to the section California Tenant Right to Repair and Deduct Rent, has provided notice of a suspected bed bug infestation, or has made an oral complaint to the lessor regarding tenantability.
  • After the date upon which the lessee, in good faith, has filed a written complaint, or an oral complaint which is registered or otherwise recorded in writing, with an appropriate agency, of which the lessor has notice, for the purpose of obtaining correction of a condition relating to tenantability.
  • After the date of an inspection or issuance of a citation, resulting from a good faith complaint filed by the lessee of which the lessor did not have notice.
  • After the filing of appropriate documents commencing a judicial or arbitration proceeding involving the issue of tenantability.
  • After entry of judgment or the signing of an arbitration award, if any, when in the judicial proceeding or arbitration the issue of tenantability is determined adversely to the lessor.

Note: In each instance, the 180-day period shall run from the latest applicable date and a lessee may not invoke his or her right under this section more than once in any 12-month period.

Threats to Report Tenant Immigration Status

To report, or to threaten to report, the lessee or individuals known to the landlord to be associated with the lessee to immigration authorities is a form of retaliatory conduct prohibited under this section. See also California Landlord Unlawful Disclosure of Tenant Immigration Status.

Other Threats Against a Tenant

It is unlawful for a lessor to increase rent, decrease services, cause a lessee to quit involuntarily, bring an action to recover possession, or threaten to do any of those acts, for the purpose of retaliating against the lessee because he or she has lawfully organized or participated in a lessees’ association or an organization advocating lessees’ rights or has lawfully and peaceably exercised any rights under the law. In an action brought by or against the lessee pursuant to this section, the lessee shall bear the burden of producing evidence that the lessor’s conduct was, in fact, retaliatory.

Note: Any waiver by a lessee of his or her rights under this section is void as contrary to public policy.

Damages for Landlord Noncompliance

Any lessor or agent of a lessor who violates this section shall be liable to the lessee in a civil action for all of the following:

  • The actual damages sustained by the lessee.
  • Punitive damages in an amount of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than two thousand dollars ($2,000) for each retaliatory act where the lessor or agent has been guilty of fraud, oppression, or malice with respect to that act.

Note: In any action brought for damages for retaliatory eviction, the court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party if either party requests attorney’s fees upon the initiation of the action.

Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 489, Sec. 6. (AB 291) Effective January 1, 2018.

Return to California Landlord-Tenant Laws.