Retaliatory actions and eviction
A landlord may try to evict a tenant because the tenant has exercised a legal right (for example, using the repair and deduct remedy, (see Having Repairs Made) or has complained about a problem in the rental unit. Or, the landlord may raise the tenant’s rent or otherwise seek to punish the tenant for complaining or lawfully exercising a tenant right.
In either situation, the landlord’s action is said to be retaliatory because the landlord is punishing the tenant for the tenant’s exercise of a legal right. The law offers tenants protection from retaliatory eviction and other retaliatory acts.338
The law infers (assumes) that the landlord has a retaliatory motive if the landlord seeks to evict the tenant (or takes other retaliatory action) within six months after the tenant has exercised any of the following tenant rights:339
- Using the repair and deduct remedy, or telling the landlord that the tenant will use the repair and deduct remedy.
- Complaining about the condition of the rental unit to the landlord, or to an appropriate public agency after giving the landlord notice.
- Filing a lawsuit or beginning arbitration based on the condition of the rental unit.
- Causing an appropriate public agency to inspect the rental unit or to issue a citation to the landlord.
In order for the tenant to defend against eviction on the basis of retaliation, the tenant must prove that he or she exercised one or more of these rights within the six-month period, that the tenant’s rent is current, and that the tenant has not used the defense of retaliation more than once in the past 12 months. If the tenant produces all of this evidence, then the landlord must produce evidence that he or she did not have a retaliatory motive.340 Even if the landlord proves that he or she has a valid reason for the eviction, the tenant can prove retaliation by showing that the landlord’s effort to evict the tenant is not in good faith.341 If both sides produce the necessary evidence, the judge or jury then must decide whether the landlord’s action was retaliatory or was based on a valid reason.
Source: California Department of Consumer Affairs
If you need help for an eviction in Sonoma County, Mendocino County, Napa County, Marin County, Solano County, Lake County or Contra Costa County, call now. I serve the cities of Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, Windsor, Healdsburg, Cloverdale, Lakeport, Clearlake, Ukiah, San Rafael, Novato, Fairfax, Napa, Calistoga, St. Helena and Vallejo. The Law Office of Wallace Francis can help you with your eviction matter.