Wrongful Eviction

When is it a Wrongful Eviction?

Under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, Oakland Rent Ordinance, Berkeley Rent Ordinance, and Richmond Rent Ordinance, a wrongful eviction occurs when a landlord forces a tenant to move out of a rent-controlled unit. This can be either a permanent or temporary ouster. Landlords wrongfully evict tenants in many ways. Have you been wrongfully evicted?

It is wrongful eviction when:

A landlord and anyone who assists a landlord in attempts to wrongfully evict can be held liable for wrongful eviction. Real estate agents, property managers, and relatives are often held liable for wrongful eviction.

The damages awarded for wrongful eviction include (1) the lost rental value of the rent-controlled unit, (2) moving costs and statutory relocation fees, and (3) emotional distress. Under the Oakland Rent Ordinance, Berkeley Rent Ordinance, and San Francisco Rent Ordinance, the damages are tripled. The lost rental value is calculated as the fair market monthly rental value of the lost unit less the actual rent paid by the tenant when evicted times the number of years the tenant expected to stay in the unit. Chacon v. Litke, 181 Cal. App. 4th 1234 (2010) (upholding an award of three times, twenty years of projected lost rental value). For example, where a tenant would have remained in a unit for another ten years and was paying $1,000 below market rate, the value of the lost unit is $120,000. This is then tripled. Attorney fees and costs are also recoverable. The lost rental value, moving costs and statutory relocation fees are automatically tripled. Emotional distress damages are tripled where a landlord acted in knowing or reckless disregard of the eviction protections under the ordinance.

Settlements from some of our wrongful eviction cases:

$1,050,000

recovered in action brought against a landlord who rented to illegal warehouse units in the Mission District of San Francisco. Eight tenants were wrongfully evicted when defective Ellis Act notices were issues after a fire in the warehouse.

$850,000

recovered on behalf of two families evicted from separate units on a three-unit property in Oakland. Once a new landlord purchased the property, he forced one set of tenants out through an owner move-in eviction. Nine months later, the landlord served the second family with a notice ofeviction claiming their unit was exempt from the protections of the Oakland Rent Ordinance. Because the owner never resided in the owner move-in unit, or any other unit on the property, neither eviction was proper.

$485,000

recovered on behalf of a couple who lived in a San Francisco flat for 26 years before being forced out by a relative move-in eviction. In violation of the Rent Ordinance, no owner was already living on the property or planned to move into the property at the same time as the relative, making a relative move-in eviction illegal. Additionally, the relative for whom the landlord was evicting the tenant never moved in.

$425,000

recovered in action brought against landlord who failed to offer a rent-controlled unit back to tenants after post-fire repairs were completed. Instead of complying with the San Francisco Rent Ordinance and allowing the long-term tenants to return to the property, the landlords re-rented the unit to a third-party for thousands more per month.

Eviction Law by California City

Northern California

Berkeley

In Berkeley, a landlord or any agent of the landlord can be held liable for a wrongful eviction. BERKELEY, CAL., MUN. CODE §§ 13.76.130(A), 13.76.040(D). Actual damages may be tripled when a landlord’s conduct was willful. BERKELEY, CAL., MUN. CODE § 13.76.150(B). Emotional distress damages are tripled when there is a knowing violation or reckless disregard of a tenants’ rights. BERKELEY, CAL., MUN. CODE § 13.79.060(H)(3). Attorney fees are recoverable for a prevailing plaintiff. BERKELEY, CAL., MUN. CODE § 13.79.040(C).

Oakland

In Oakland, a landlord, their agent, or anyone assisting a landlord can be held liable for a wrongful eviction. OAKLAND, CAL., MUN. CODE §§ 8.22.370(A)(2), 8.22.340. Actual damages are automatically tripled. OAKLAND, CAL., MUN. CODE § 8.22.370(A)(2). Emotional distress damages are tripled when there is a knowing violation or reckless disregard of a tenant’s rights. OAKLAND, CAL., MUN. CODE § 8.22.370(A)(2). Attorney fees are recoverable for a prevailing plaintiff. OAKLAND, CAL., MUN. CODE § 8.22.370(A)(2).

San Francisco

In San Francisco, a landlord or any agent of the landlord can be held liable for a wrongful eviction. SAN FRANCISCO, CAL., ADMIN. CODE §§ 37.9(a),(f), 37.2(h). Actual damages are automatically tripled. SAN FRANCISCO, CAL., ADMIN. CODE § 37.9(f). Emotional distress damages are tripled when there is a knowing violation or reckless disregard of the tenants’ rights. SAN FRANCISCO, CAL., ADMIN. CODE § 37.9(f). Attorney fees are recoverable for a prevailing plaintiff. SAN FRANCISCO, CAL., ADMIN. CODE § 37.9(f).

Richmond

In Richmond, a landlord or any agent of the landlord can be held liable for a wrongful eviction. RICHMOND, CAL., MUN. CODE §§ 11.100.050(a),(g), 11.100.030(f). A landlord can be held liable for actual damages, including damages for emotional distress. RICHMOND, CAL., MUN. CODE § 11.100.050(g). Attorney fees are recoverable for a prevailing plaintiff. RICHMOND, CAL., MUN. CODE § 11.100.050(g).

Southern California

West Hollywood

In West Hollywood, a landlord or any agent of the landlord can be held liable for a wrongful eviction. WEST HOLLYWOOD, CAL., MUN. CODE §§ 17.52.030, 17.08.010(11). Any person or entity violating any provisions of the Ordinance is liable for actual or statutory damages and punitive damages. WEST HOLLYWOOD, CAL., MUN. CODE § 17.68.010(d). Attorney fees are recoverable for a prevailing plaintiff. WEST HOLLYWOOD, CAL., MUN. CODE § 17.68.010(d).

Santa Monica

In Santa Monica, a landlord or any agent of the landlord can be held liable for a wrongful eviction. SANTA MONICA, CAL., MUN. CODE, §§ 1806(a), 1801(e). A landlord may be held liable for actual and punitive damages, including damages for emotional distress. SANTA MONICA, CAL., MUN. CODE, § 1806(f). Attorney fees are recoverable for a prevailing plaintiff. SANTA MONICA, CAL., MUN. CODE, § 1806(f).

Beverly Hills

In Beverly Hills, a landlord or any agent of the landlord can be liable for a wrongful eviction. BEVERLY HILLS, CAL., MUN. CODE, Title 4, ch. 5, §§ 501,703, 202. In a wrongful eviction action for a fraudulent owner- or relative-move-in eviction, a landlord is liable for triple the amount of the rent which would have been paid by the tenant had the tenant not been dispossessed, not exceeding six months. BEVERLY HILLS, CAL., MUN. CODE, Title 4, ch. 5, § 703(B). Attorney fees are recoverable for a prevailing plaintiff. BEVERLY HILLS, CAL., MUN. CODE, Title 4, ch. 5, § 703(B).

Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, a landlord or any agent of the landlord can be held liable for a wrongful eviction. LOS ANGELES, CAL., MUN. CODE, §§ 151.09(A), 151.02. Actual damages are automatically tripled where the landlord acts in bad faith in recovering possession of a rental unit for owner-, owner-relative, or resident-manager occupancy. LOS ANGELES, CAL., MUN. CODE § 151.30(I)(1). Attorney fees are recoverable for a prevailing plaintiff where the landlord acts in bad faith in recovering possession of a rental unit for owner-, owner-relative, or resident-manager occupancy. LOS ANGELES, CAL., MUN. CODE § 151.30(I)(1).

Wrongful eviction laws vary by City and are very complex. You should consult with an attorney specializing in this area if you think you have been wrongfully evicted.
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