California State Laws Prohibiting Landlord Retaliation

Learn what types of landlord retaliation are illegal in California.

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California state law (Cal. Civ. Code § 1942.51) prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants.

Tenant Rights Protected Against Landlord Retaliation in California

It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant in California who has exercised a legal right, including:

  • complaining to the landlord about unsafe or illegal living conditions
  • complaining to a government agency, such as a building or health inspector, about unsafe or illegal living conditions
  • assembling and presenting your views collectively—for example, by joining or organizing a tenant union, or
  • exercising a legal right allowed by your state or local law, such as withholding the rent for an uninhabitable unit.

Types of Retaliation That Are Against State Law

The kinds of retaliatory acts covered by California law include terminating a tenancy or filing an eviction lawsuit; increasing the rent; or decreasing services, such as locking the laundry room. California state law presumes retaliation if the landlord acts in these types of negative ways within 180 days of the date that a tenant has exercised a legal right, such as complaining to the landlord about an unsafe heater in the apartment.

For advice on how to respond to—and prove—retaliation, see the article Landlord Retaliation.

California Guide to Tenant Rights

For an overview of tenant rights under California landlord-tenant law, and resources for filing complaints, see http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/index.shtml.  Also, the Nolo book California Tenants’ Rights includes provides more detail on illegal retaliatory evictions.

 

California State and Local Law on Landlord Retaliation

For state law on landlord retaliation, see Cal. Civ. Code § 1942.51.

See the Laws and Legal Research section of Nolo for advice on finding and reading statutes and court decisions.

Also, check your local housing ordinances, particularly if you are covered by rent control, for any city or county rules that protect tenants from landlord retaliation. To find yours, call your mayor or city manager’s office or check your city or county website.

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