There are over ten million people living in Los Angeles County. Some of the larger cities in the county, such as Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, have adopted local tenant protections, but because 65% of the county is unincorporated, which are areas that generally do not fall under city laws, most tenants in the county have had little to no protections. Recently, the County of Los Angeles enacted the Retaliatory Eviction and Anti-Harassment law detailed below. Tenants in unincorporated areas are now protected from unscrupulous landlords that engage in threatening, intimidating, or fraudulent behavior that is intended to force a tenant to vacate their home. The ordinance also provides tenants with the ability to sue their landlord for violations of the law.
In addition, the County now regulates rent increases and provides just-cause for eviction protections for tenants residing in unincorporated areas. Tenants can review the full County of Los Angles Rent Stabilization and Tenant Protection Ordinance here.
The ordinance applies to the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. L.A. County, Cal. Mun. Code § 8.52.040. There are over 120 unincorporated areas in the county. Some of the areas that are covered by the ordinance are the following: Agoura, Altadena, Big Pines, Calabasas, Canyon Country, Deer Lake Highlands, Del Sur, East Los Angeles, East Pasadena, Fairmont, Franklin Canyon, Glendora, Green Valley, Hacienda Heights, Juniper Hills, Kagel Canyon, La Crescenta, Long Beach, Los Nietos, Malibu Vista, Marina del Rey, Monrovia, Northeast San Dimas, Northeast Whittier, Oat Mountain, Placerita Canyon, Quartz Hill, Rancho Dominguez, Rowland Heights, San Clemente Island, Soledad, Sun Village, Topanga Canyon, Twin Lakes, Universal City, Valencia, Valinda, West Arcadia, West Pomona, and White Fence Farms.
To find out if your unit is located in an unincorporated area of the county, you can check with the County of Los Angeles.
What is a retaliatory eviction under County of Los Angeles Retaliatory Eviction and Anti-Harassment Ordinance?
Landlords are prohibited from retaliating against a tenant who is not in default of their rent and who has exercised their rights under the ordinance. L.A. County, Cal., Mun. Code § 8.52.130. Landlords may not terminate a tenancy, refuse to renew a tenancy, or cause a tenant to involuntarily move out in response to a tenant exercising their rights. Id.
Failure by the landlord to comply with the ordinance can be asserted by a tenant as an affirmative defense to any action brought against them by the landlord. Id.
What is harassment under the County of Los Angeles Retaliatory Eviction and Anti-Harassment Ordinance?
In the County of Los Angeles, landlords and their contractors, subcontractors, employees, and any person acting as an agent of the landlord are prohibited from doing the following:
- Interrupt, terminate, or fail to provide, or threaten to interrupt, terminate, or provide any housing service required by the lease agreement or the law.
- Act in bad faith by any of the following actions:
- Fail to perform repairs and maintenance.
- Fail to exercise due diligence in completing repairs and maintenance they had undertaken.
- Fail to follow industry repair, containment, or remediation protocols to lessen noise, dust, lead, paint, mold, asbestos, or other harmful building materials exposure.
- Renovate or perform construction for the purpose of harassing a tenant.
- Refuse to acknowledge receipt of lawful payment of rent.
- Refuse to cash or process a rent payment for over 30 days.
- Fail to maintain a current address for delivery of rent payments.
- Violate a tenant’s right to privacy by requesting citizen ship status, protected class status, or social security number, unless the social security number is needed for purposes of tenancy qualification.
- Release the above information to others, unless required by law.
- Request an unreasonable amount of information from a tenant that has made a request for a reasonable accommodation.
- Abuse the right to enter, including entries unrelated to repairs/maintenance, excessive entries, entries targeting a certain tenant to collect information about them, entries demanding a time outside of normal business hours, entries contrary to a tenant’s request to change the date and time of the entry, and photographing or recording the unit beyond the scope of the entry’s purpose.
- Influence or attempt to influence a tenant to vacate through fraud, misrepresentation, intimidation, or coercion.
- Threaten a tenant with words (orally or in writing) or physical harm.
- Discriminate against a tenant based on race, gender, sexual preference, sexual orientation, ethnic background, nationality, religion, age, parenthood, marriage, pregnancy, disability, HIV, AIDS, occupancy by a minor child, or source of income.
- Terminate, serve a notice to quit, or bring an action to recover possession of a unit based on information that the landlord has no reasonable cause to believe is true.
- Remove a tenant’s personal property from the unit without the tenant’s prior written consent.
- Provide false information to the tenant about any federal, state, county, or local tenant protections. False information includes:
- Demanding a tenant sign a lease agreement not in the tenant’s primary language.
- Conducting rental agreement negotiations not in the tenant’s primary language.
- Providing a rental agreement that is not in the tenant’s primary language.
- Awareness by the landlord that the lease is not in the tenant’s primary language
- Entering into a rent repayment plan if the landlord tells the tenant that they have to enter into such an agreement in order to qualify for tenant protections.
- Offer payments to tenant to vacate more than once in six months after the tenant notified the landlord in writing they do not want to receive offers.
- Communicate in a language that is not the tenant’s primary language to intimidate, confuse, deceive, or annoy the tenant.
- Interfere with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment.
- Repeatedly and substantially interfere with any occupant’s quiet enjoyment to cause, or intend to cause, the occupant to vacate the unit or to waive their rights.
- Remove a housing service, such as a parking space, to force a tenant to vacate.
- Interfere with the right of tenants to organize. L.A. County, Cal., Mun. Code § 8.52.130.
Can I sue my landlord for violating the County of Los Angeles Retaliatory Eviction and Anti-Harassment Ordinance?
Yes. Any tenant, or any person or entity acting on behalf of the tenant’s interest, including the County, may bring a lawsuit against the landlord for violations of the law. L.A. County, Cal., Mun. Code § 8.52.170. Tenants can sue for a wrongful eviction, illegal rent increases, illegal buyouts, retaliation, and harassment. Id. Tenants can seek injunctive, declaratory and other equitable relief, restitution, and reasonable attorney fees and costs. Id. The court may award reasonable attorney fees and costs to a landlord who prevails in any action brought against them if the court determines that the tenant’s action was frivolous. Id.
In addition, landlords who have retaliated against or harassed the tenant will be liable for civil penalties of between $2,000 and $5,000 per violation. L.A. County, Cal., Mun. Code § 8.52.130. If the tenant is 62 years old or older or is disabled, the court may award an additional $5,000 per violation. Id.
Each violation of the ordinance, and each day such violation is committed, permitted, or continued, is a separate offense. L.A. County, Cal., Mun. Code § 8.52.170.
Tenants who are being retaliated against or harassed by their landlord in violation of the County of Los Angeles Retaliatory Eviction and Anti-Harassment Ordinance can call Tobener Ravenscroft LLP at (415) 504-2165 to speak with a tenant attorney about their rights.