It is unlawful for a landlord to harass a tenant. Illegal Harassment can take many forms. Tenant harassment includes: removing /taking away services (such as cutting off heat or hot water), refusing to make necessary repairs, threatening tenants with eviction or harm, or attempting to force a tenant to vacate their apartment.

San Francisco Rent Ordinance Section 37.10B prohibits landlords from taking away or failing to provide certain basic services from tenants. This includes interrupting, terminating or failing to provide housing services required by contract or by State, County or local housing, health or safety laws, among others.

Tenants who have been subjected to harassment may have a basis to sue their landlord for damages.

Rent Ordinance Section 37.10B specifies that:

(a) No landlord, and no agent, contractor, subcontractor or employee of the landlord shall do any of the following in bad faith:

(1) Interrupt, terminate or fail to provide housing services required by contract or by State, County or local housing, health or safety laws;

(2) Fail to perform repairs and maintenance required by contract or by State, County or local housing, health or safety laws;

(3) Fail to exercise due diligence in completing repairs and maintenance once undertaken or fail to follow appropriate industry repair, containment or remediation protocols designed to minimize exposure to noise, dust, lead, paint, mold, asbestos, or other building materials with potentially harmful health impacts;

(4) Abuse the landlord’s right of access into a rental housing unit as that right is provided by law;

(5) Influence or attempt to influence a tenant to vacate a rental housing unit through fraud, intimidation or coercion;

(6) Attempt to coerce the tenant to vacate with offer(s) of payments to vacate which are accompanied with threats or intimidation;

(7) Continue to offer payments to vacate after tenant has notified the landlord in writing that they no longer wish to receive further offers of payments to vacate;

(8) Threaten the tenant, by word or gesture, with physical harm;

(9) Violate any law which prohibits discrimination based on actual or perceived race, gender, sexual preference, sexual orientation, ethnic background, nationality, place of birth, immigration or citizenship status, religion, age, parenthood, marriage, pregnancy, disability, AIDS or occupancy by a minor child;

(10) Interfere with a tenant’s right to quiet use and enjoyment of a rental housing unit as that right is defined by California law;

(11) Refuse to accept or acknowledge receipt of a tenant’s lawful rent payment;

(12) Refuse to cash a rent check for over 30 days;

(13) Interfere with a tenant’s right to privacy;

(14) Request information that violates a tenant’s right to privacy, including but not limited to residence or citizenship status or social security number;

(15) Other repeated acts or omissions of such significance as to substantially interfere with or disturb the comfort, repose, peace or quiet of any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of such dwelling unit and that cause, are likely to cause, or are intended to cause any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of a dwelling unit to vacate such dwelling unit or to surrender or waive any rights in relation to such occupancy.

Case Study


Recovered for a single long-term tenant in San Francisco. Our client was forced to move out of his apartment as a result of extreme landlord harassment.


Recovered in constructive eviction action on behalf of two 14 year tenants in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. Tenants were living in what they later learned was an illegal in-law unit and were forced to move after years of harassment from their landlord and substandard living conditions.


Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco tenant in Russian Hill. Tenant was forced to vacate her illegal apartment in retaliation for reporting an unlawful rent increases to the San Francisco Rent Board. Our client was forced to vacate after her landlord served our client with a series of eviction notices and told her the apartment was unsafe to live in.


Recovered in action on behalf of a mother and son who were forced out of their apartment in the Sunset neighborhood after enduring years of harassment, and a rodent infestation.