California Landlord Retaliation Laws

California Landlord Retaliation Laws

Last Updated: February 19, 2023

Tenant Protected Actions
  • Written Health / Safety Complaints to Gov’t
  • Verbal or Written Complaints to Landlord
  • Organizing / Joining Tenants’ Union
  • Exercising Lawful Rights
  • Landlord Loses a Habitability Case
Landlord Retaliatory Actions
  • Raising Rent
  • Decreasing Services
  • Filing/Threatening Eviction
  • Disclosing Tenant Immigration Status
Penalties for Retaliation
  • Sue for Monetary Damages + Attorney Fees
  • Collect Fines (when retaliation was deliberate)

When Is It Illegal for Landlords to Retaliate in California?

When rent is current, it’s illegal for landlords in California to retaliate against tenants in the following ways:

  • Denying access to the property.
  • Raising rent.
  • Reducing or stopping services.
  • Deliberately removing furnishings or property.
  • Reporting the immigration status of someone who lives on the property.

Tenants are protected after the following occurrences:

  • Written reports about health or safety violations.
  • Written or verbal complaints to the landlord about repairs.
  • Participation in a tenant organization.
  • Exercising rights under the law or lease.
  • The end of a habitability case where the landlord loses.

The law presumes retaliation for six months after a lost habitability case or tenant complaint about repairs, health, or safety. However, tenants must prove retaliation when they exercise rights or join a protected organization. With removed property or furnishings, tenants must prove the landlord’s intent to kick them out.

What Can Tenants Do in Response in California?

California tenants can respond by suing for monetary damages plus attorney fees. Fines for intentional misconduct are up to $2,000 per act, with additional penalties for intentional attempts to dispossess the tenant. Tenants can also seek an injunction to end the lease or provide other relief.