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Can I Sue My Landlord for Harassment?

Can I Sue My Landlord for Harassment?

Can I Sue My Landlord for Harassment?

26Jan

Can I Sue My Landlord for Harassment?

California works very hard to provide a high level of protection for its residential renters. Both the state and many local communities, including Oakland, have passed protective legislation for their citizens who live in rental properties. 

State Law Protections

Under California law, it is illegal for a landlord to try to force a tenant to abandon a rental unit by using force, willful threats, or menacing conduct. The law also prohibits threats to disclose a tenant's or the tenant's guests' immigration status or to take or remove the tenant's property from the unit without consent. Under the same law, a tenant can file a civil action against a landlord whose conduct violates the statute and recover damages of up to $2,000 per violation. 

Oakland Tenants Protection Ordinance

The Oakland Tenants Protection Ordinance prohibits a series of bad faith acts by landlords. Among them are:  

  • Threatening to or interrupting or failing to provide housing services.
  • Failing to perform necessary repairs and maintenance.
  • Abusing the landlord's right of access to a rental unit.
  • Removing the tenant's personal furnishings, property, or other items without prior written consent. 
  • Intimidating or threatening to report the tenant or a tenant's roommate to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • Coercing a tenant to leave the rental unit by using threats or offering payment.
  • Threatening the tenant, by word or gesture, with physical harm.
  • Substantially and directly interfering with a tenant's right to quiet use and enjoyment.

Under the TPO, landlords are also prohibited from retaliating against tenants who exercise their TPO rights. If a tenant believes that the landlord has retaliated against the tenant or has violated certain other provisions of the ordinance, the tenant may bring a civil action against the landlord. In order to bring the action, the tenant must first notify the landlord of the alleged problems and allow fifteen days for curing the violation. 

If the landlord does not timely cure the violation – or provide timely notice of a need for additional time for repairs, the tenant can file suit and recover up to $2,000 per violation. Under certain circumstances, the tenant may recover attorney's fees and court costs, punitive damages, treble damages, and injunctive relief to enjoin the violation(s). 

Oakland Rental Adjustment Program

The city of Oakland also requires that landlords treat tenant deposits in accordance with the law. Security deposits must be returned within 21 days of the tenant leaving the unit. If not returned by that day, the tenant can make a written request for the funds or a statement indicating any changes against it. If the landlord fails to comply, the tenant can sue for the amount withheld and up to twice that amount if it was withheld in bad faith. 

How An Oakland Tenant Harassment Lawyer Can Help

If you believe that your Oakland landlord has violated California law or the TPO or Rental Adjustment Program or has retaliated against you for exercising your tenant rights, contact an Oakland tenant harassment attorney for assistance. Contact us as soon as possible for an initial consultation and case evaluation. Let us help you obtain your tenant rights and damages that may be owed to you. 

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Get In Touch With Us

For more information or to discuss your legal situation, call us today at (415) 649-6203 for a phone consultation or submit an inquiry below. Please note our firm can only assist tenants residing in San Francisco, Oakland & Berkeley.

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