The Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance
The City of Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance seeks to protect every Los Angeles tenant from harassment perpetrated by unscrupulous landlords and designed to force families from their homes. By protecting every rental unit in Los Angeles and providing for a private right of action, the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance is a powerful tool protecting tenants throughout Los Angeles.
Is My Rental Unit Covered Under the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance?
The Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance covers all rental units within the City of Los Angeles. Los Angeles Municipal Code § 45.32. The law protects Los Angeles tenants in all housing accommodations, including single-family homes, condominiums, duplexes, recreational vehicles, and mobile homes. Further, the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance also covers all housing services, privileges, furnishings, and facilities supplied in connection with the tenancy, including but not limited to garage and parking facilities.
Does the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance Protect Subtenants?
Yes, the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance protects all occupants, including tenants, subtenants, sublessee, or “any other person entitled to use or occupy” the Los Angeles rental unit. Los Angeles Municipal Code § 45.32.
Does the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance Apply to Property Managers?
Yes, the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance applies to property owners, property managers, lessors, and sublessors. Los Angeles Municipal Code § 45.32. Additionally, any person or entity that collects rent must comply with the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance.
What Types of Harassment Does the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance Prohibit?
The Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance prohibits the landlord’s knowing and willful harassment directed at a specific tenant or tenants. Los Angeles Municipal Code § 45.33. Under the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, the unlawful harassing behavior must cause detriment or harm, such as an overpayment in rent, property damage, or wrongful eviction. Further, the harassing conduct must have no lawful purpose.
Under the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, the following actions constitute unlawful landlord harassment:
- Reducing or eliminating housing services required by a lease, contract, or law, except when necessary to comply with a court order or local or state law, or to create an ADU or additional housing;
- Failing to perform and complete necessary health and safety repairs and maintenance timely, or failing to follow industry standards to minimize exposure to noise, dust, lead paint, asbestos, or other building materials with potentially harmful health impact when working;
- Abusing the right of access into a rental unit under California Civil Code section 1954;
- Threatening tenants, by word or gesture, with physical harm;
- Attempting to coerce tenants to vacate with payment offer(s);
- Misrepresenting to a tenant that the tenant is required to vacate a unit or enticing the tenant to vacate through intentional misrepresentation or concealment or omission of a material fact;
- Threatening or taking action to terminate any tenancy, including serving a notice to cure or quit or eviction notice or filing an eviction action, where such acts are based on facts the landlord has no reasonable cause to believe as true. Under this subsection, landlord liability requires the tenant to obtain a favorable termination of an action to recover possession of the unit;
- Threatening or engaging in any act or omission interfering with the tenant’s right to use and enjoy the rental unit or that renders the unit unfit for human habitation and occupancy;
- Refusing to acknowledge or accept receipt of lawful rent payments as specified in a lease, by law, or the parties’ usual practice;
- Inquiring about the immigration or citizenship status of a tenant, occupant, or prospective additional tenant or occupant of a rental unit, or requiring any person to make a statement or certification concerning their status;
- Disclosing or threatening to disclose information regarding the immigration or citizenship status of a tenant for any reason;
- Disclosing or threatening to disclose information about a tenant to any government entity for engaging in legally protected activities or to influence them to vacate;
- Engaging in an activity prohibited by federal, state, or local housing anti-discrimination laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Fair Employment & Housing Act;
- Retaliating, threatening, or interfering with tenant organizing activities, including forming or participating in tenant associations and unions;
- Interfering with a tenant’s right to privacy, or requesting information in violation of the tenant’s right to privacy, including but not limited to, residency, citizenship status, and social security number, except as authorized by law; and,
- Other repeated acts or omissions that substantially interfere with or disturb the tenant and cause, may cause, or are committed causing the tenant to surrender or waive any tenant rights.
For Los Angeles tenants in rental units protected by the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance, the following actions also constitute unlawful landlord harassment:
- Offering payments to a tenant to vacate the rental unit without providing a Tenant Buyout Notice. Los Angeles Municipal Code § 151.33.
What Options May Los Angeles Tenants Take to Curb Landlord Violations of the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance?
First, demand the landlord stop the unlawful harassing conduct in writing. For Los Angeles tenants that elect to send their landlords letters, be sure to keep a copy for yourself.
Also, keep a log detailing every instance of landlord harassment. Although no set template exists, Los Angeles tenants should, in addition to a concise description of the harassment, include the date, time, and location of the harassment. It is also helpful to include the name of all witnesses present during each event.
Los Angeles tenants should also consider filing a police report to document severe instances of landlord harassment.
Under the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, Los Angeles Tenants Can Sue Harassing Landlords for Money Damages
Los Angeles tenants facing pervasive landlord harassment substantially interfering with or disturbing their tenancy have the right to bring a landlord harassment claim in court. The Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance contains a private right of action empowering Los Angeles tenants to file a lawsuit in the California Superior Court. Los Angeles Municipal Code § 45.35. Under the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, a prevailing tenant may recover actual damages, return of rent damages, a $10,000 civil penalty awarded per violation, and punitive damages. Where the Los Angeles tenant suffered harassment as a senior (older 65 years old) or disabled, they are entitled to recover an additional $5,000 per violation. Additionally, the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance provides for a prevailing tenant to recover their attorney fees and court costs.
Please note that Los Angeles tenants may recover these damages penalties on top of other remedies, penalties, and punitive damages recoverable by law.
What Prerequisites Must Los Angeles Tenants Satisfy Before Filing A Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance Lawsuit?
Before filing a lawsuit under the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, Los Angeles tenants must:
- Provide written notice to the landlord of the alleged violations; and,
- Wait for the Los Angeles landlord to fail to stop harassing conduct within a reasonable time. Los Angeles Municipal Code § 45.35.
The Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance fails to define what constitutes a reasonable time.
How Else Does the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance Protect Los Angeles Tenants?
For Los Angeles tenants commencing a new tenancy in a rental unit covered under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance, the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance may limit the initial rent the landlord may charge. Los Angeles Municipal Code § 45.37. Where the prior tenant was forced from their home due to harassment in violation of the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, the landlord must charge as initial rent, the lawful rent in effect at the time the prior tenant was forced to vacate.
To discuss the Los Angeles Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, Los Angeles Ellis Act evictions, Los Angeles owner move-in or relative move-in evictions, Los Angeles wrongful eviction, or California Rent Control (AB 1482), contact Astanehe Law to speak with a tenant attorney.
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