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How Do I Get Compensation for Landlord Harassment

Don’t Let Landlord Harassment Slide: Get the Compensation You Deserve

Are you dealing with a difficult landlord? Wondering how to get compensation for landlord harassment? It can be frustrating when your living situation becomes stressful due to your landlord’s behavior. 

Whether you’re facing threats of eviction or constant disruptions, knowing your rights can help you navigate this challenging situation and ensure you’re treated fairly under the law.

Quick Summary

Below is an overview of the key points of this blog article.

  • Landlord harassment is when a landlord or property manager does things to bother or scare a tenant into leaving. This can include threats, cutting off utilities, entering the rental unit without a good reason, raising rent without reason, not allowing guests, discrimination, or sexual harassment.
  • Tenants are protected against landlord harassment in California. If a landlord harasses a tenant, they may have to pay fines and damages, including potential fines of up to $2,000 for each act of harassment.
  • Landlords may harass tenants to make them leave, often to replace them with tenants who will pay higher rent. This can happen in rent-controlled units where landlords want to increase rents, convert buildings to condos, avoid repairs, or develop new properties for more profit.
  • Watch for these signs that your landlord may be harassing you: frequent rent increases, frequent maintenance visits, restricting guests, threatening eviction without cause, making verbal threats or insults, and implementing discriminatory rules.
  • To get compensation for landlord harassment in California, it’s important to keep records, report violations, send a formal letter, get legal advice, and file a lawsuit.
  • Proving landlord harassment can be difficult, but keeping a record of each incident, including dates and times, is crucial. Save any texts or emails from your landlord, and ask witnesses to write down what they saw.
  • If you sue your landlord for harassment and win, you may receive compensation for various costs, such as moving expenses or rent increases, and for emotional distress. You could also receive fines and penalties, triple the amount of money you lost, punitive damages, legal costs, and a court order to stop the harassment.
  • Tenants can stop landlord harassment by communicating, keeping records, reporting the harassment, seeking legal advice, and taking legal action if necessary. By understanding their rights and taking proactive steps, tenants can protect themselves against harassment and hold their landlords accountable for their actions.

What is Considered a Landlord Harassment?

Landlord harassment means a landlord or property manager keeps doing things to bother, scare, or pressure a tenant to leave a rental unit. It can include:

  • Threats spoken or written
  • Turning off utilities
  • Going into the rental unit often or for no good reason
  • Increasing rent often without reason
  • Not permitting guests
  • Discrimination
  • Sexual harassment

Am I Protected Against Landlord Harassment in California as a Tenant?

Yes, it is against the law for a landlord to harass a tenant. According to California Civil Code Section 1940.2, a landlord cannot use these methods to make a tenant leave their apartment or home unlawfully:

  • Using forceful, threatening, or scary behavior
  • Sharing information about a tenant’s immigration status or someone they know
  • Threatening to involve immigration authorities to make a tenant leave
  • Disturbing the tenant’s right to enjoy their home peacefully
  • Entering the rental unit without the tenant’s permission
  • Taking, keeping, or removing the tenant’s belongings from their home without permission

A landlord can be held responsible for aggressive or intimidating behavior, even if they don’t succeed in making the tenant leave. If a landlord is found guilty of harassing a tenant, they might have to pay fines of up to $2,000 for each act of harassment, according to California Civil Code Section 1940.2

Additionally, if a landlord reveals a tenant’s immigration or citizenship status to harass, intimidate, or retaliate against the tenant, they may have to pay damages. The damages could be between 6 and 12 times the monthly rent for each tenant whose status was disclosed, as stated in California Civil Code Section 1940.35.

Why Do Landlords Harass Tenants?

Landlords might harass tenants to make them leave so they can find new tenants who will pay more rent. Some reasons for this could be:


  • Avoiding Rent Control. Landlords can’t increase rents as much when units are under rent control. Harassment is the wrong way to make rent-controlled units available for higher rents.
  • Increasing Rents. After long-term tenants leave due to harassment, landlords can charge new tenants higher rents.
  • Converting to Condos. Landlords might want to turn buildings into condos, which can increase property values, but they need the units to be vacant first.
  • Neglecting Repairs. By not fixing things properly, landlords can save money. Harassment can lead to tenants leaving, which means less need for repairs.
  • Development. Landlords of rent-controlled properties may harass tenants to get them to leave, so they can demolish the buildings and build more profitable new ones.

What Are the Common Warning Signs of Landlord Harassment?

Look out for these typical signs that your landlord might be harassing you:

  • Often raising rent
  • Coming for maintenance a lot
  • Limiting who can visit
  • Threatening to make you leave for no good reason
  • Saying mean things or threatening you
  • Having unfair rules or treating you unfairly

How Do I Get Compensation for Landlord Harassment in California?

Don’t keep quiet if your landlord is harassing you. Take action to stop the harassment and make sure your landlord is held responsible:

  • Keep Records. Write down everything that happens, including dates and times. Save texts, emails, photos, videos, and statements from anyone who saw what happened.
  • Report Violations. Tell the housing authorities about any harassment or discrimination. Also, ask for any repairs that need to be done.
  • Send a Formal Letter. Write a letter to your landlord explaining the harassment and what needs to change. Send it by certified mail.
  • Get Legal Advice. Talk to a lawyer who knows about tenant rights. There are also legal groups that help people with little money.
  • File a Lawsuit. If things don’t get better, you can sue your landlord. You can ask for money for your problems, like feeling upset, losing money, paying for a lawyer, and more.

How Can I Prove Landlord Harassment?

Proving landlord harassment can be hard. It often depends on how well a tenant can show the harassment. Tenants should carefully write down each time something happens. Here are some ways to prove harassment:

  • Write down each time something happens, including dates and times
  • Save texts and emails from your landlord
  • Ask friends, neighbors, or anyone who saw what happened to write down what they saw
  • Take pictures, audio recordings, or videos if you can
  • Call the police if you need to
  • Get a restraining order if you feel unsafe

What Compensation Can I Get in a Lawsuit Against My Landlord for Harassment?

If you take legal action against your landlord for harassment and you win, California laws let you get back:

  • Money for costs like moving, paying more rent, or things you lost
  • Money for feeling upset, uncomfortable, or not being able to enjoy your home
  • Fines and penalties
  • Triple the amount of money you lost
  • Punitive damages as punishment
  • Money for legal costs
  • Court order to stop the harassment

How Can I Stop Landlord Harassment?

Dealing with a harassing landlord can be stressful and challenging. However, tenants have rights and protections against such behavior. Understanding these rights and taking proactive steps can help stop landlord harassment.

Communicate Clearly and Firmly

If your landlord’s actions are bothering you, try talking to them calmly and clearly about the issue. Sometimes, they may not be aware that their behavior is causing a problem. By communicating your concerns, you give them a chance to correct their behavior.

Keep Records

Document any incidents of harassment, including dates, times, and details of what happened. Keep copies of any relevant communication, such as emails or texts, and record any witnesses who can support your claim. These records can be crucial if you need to take legal action.

Report the Harassment

If talking to your landlord doesn’t resolve the issue, consider reporting the harassment to the appropriate authorities. This could include your local housing authority, tenant’s union, or legal aid organization. They can guide how to proceed and may be able to intervene on your behalf.

Seek Legal Advice

If the harassment continues, or if you believe it’s severe, consider consulting with a lawyer who has a deep understanding of tenant rights. They can advise you on your legal options and help you understand your rights under the law.

Take Legal Action

If all else fails, you may need to take legal action against your landlord. This could involve filing a lawsuit for harassment, seeking a restraining order, or pursuing other legal remedies available to you. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and advocate for your rights in court.

Fight Back Against Landlord Harassment in California

If you’re facing landlord harassment in California, Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C. is here to help. Our trusted legal team understands the complexities of landlord-tenant law and can guide you through the process of seeking compensation for the harassment you’ve endured. 

With our help, you can assert your rights as a tenant and hold your landlord accountable for their actions. Don’t let landlord harassment go unchecked. Contact Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C. today to learn how we can help you get the compensation you deserve. We can also assist you with TIC Disputes and Lease Disputes.  

Our team is dedicated to providing compassionate and effective legal representation to tenants in California, and we’re ready to fight for you.

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