The Concord Residential Tenant Anti-Harassment Protection Ordinance
In June 2022, the City of Concord passed the Concord Residential Tenant Anti-Harassment Protection Ordinance (“Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance”), which protects Concord residential tenants from harassment perpetrated by unscrupulous landlords, property managers, or other representatives in bad faith. By protecting all residential tenancies in Concord, and empowering tenants with a private right of action, the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance is a powerful law protecting tenants throughout the City of Concord. This article provides a concise overview of the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance. For more information or to discuss available options when facing landlord harassment, please contact Astanehe Law by phone or email.
Is My Rental Unit Covered Under the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance?
The Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance covers every Concord tenant. Concord Municipal Code § 19.50.010. This includes authorized Concord tenants residing in unlawful units, single-family homes, and any “building, structure, …. Or held out for use by a tenant…” Id. If the individual rents a unit in the City of Concord, the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance provides protection.
Does the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance Protect Subtenants?
Yes, the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance protects subtenants. Concord Municipal Code §19.50.010. The Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance explicitly protects subtenants. In fact, the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance protects any person entitled to use or occupy the rental unit, such as a disabled adult who does not pay rent to reside in a rental unit with their family member.
Does Your Property Manager Also Have to Abide by the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance?
Yes, the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance applies to landlords, landlord agents, property managers, and representatives. Concord Municipal Code § 19.50.010. Additionally, any person or entity that has the right to offer the property for rent must follow the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance.
What Types of Harassment Does the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance Prohibit?
The Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance prohibits bad faith harassing conduct. Under the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, the following actions constitute unlawful landlord harassment, which Concord landlords must not engage in:
- Conducting elective rental unit renovation or construction work;
- Interrupting or terminating, directly or indirectly, any utility service, such as water, heat, light, electricity, gas, telephone, elevator, or refrigeration;
- Willfully violating or threatening to violate Civil Code section 789.3, which prohibits a landlord from terminating or interrupting a tenancy by changing the locks or removing utilities;
- Terminating, interrupting, or failing to provide housing services required by a rental agreement, absent a local health or safety emergency, or not completing maintenance, repairs, or renovations. This includes charging Concord tenants for housing services in violation of law, or charging Concord tenants for housing services not previously charged under their rental agreements;
- Requiring a Concord tenant to sign a written lease renewal with new material terms, except for any changes authorized by state law, including but not limited to Civil Code section 1946.2(f), 1947.5, or 1947.12;
- Failing to exercise due diligence in completing repairs once undertaken;
- Failing to timely comply with any notice and order to correct violations issued by the City of Concord;
- Violating the warranty of habitability provided under California Civil Code sections 1941 and 1941.1;
- Violating the habitability standards and Health and Safety Code sections 17920.3 and 17920.10;
- Abusing the right of access as provided under California Civil Code section 1954;
- Forced vacation, including:
- Influencing or attempting to influence a Concord tenant to vacate their rental unit through fraud, misrepresentation, intimidation, or coercion, including threatening report a Concord tenant or other person known to associate with the tenant to the United States Department of Homeland Security, or otherwise violate Civil Code sections 1940.2 or 1940.35;
- Removing a housing service for the purpose of causing the tenant to vacate the rental unit;
- Discriminating against a tenant based on race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, veteran or military status, or genetic information in violation of the California Fair Employment & Housing Act (“FEHA”), based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status in violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, or in violation of any other applicable law;
- By making misrepresentations, including:
- Misrepresentation to a Concord tenant that they are required to vacate a rental unit or otherwise entice a tenant to vacate a rental unit through misrepresentations or concealment of material facts;
- Providing materially false written or verbal information regarding applicable tenant laws, including deliberate mischaracterization of the nature of or effect of a notice to quit or other eviction notice. This also includes violating California Civil Code section 1632, requiring certain rental agreements to be translated, or demanding a Concord tenant enter into a rent repayment plan to take advantage of tenant protection laws that do not require such plans;
- Take action to terminate a tenancy, including serving a notice to quit or other eviction notice or bringing an eviction lawsuit based upon facts which the landlord has no reasonable cause to believe to be true or upon a legal theory which is untenable under the facts known to the landlord. However, the Concord tenant must obtain a favorable termination of any pending eviction action before bringing suit on this ground;
- Refusing to acknowledge or accept receipt of a Concord tenant’s lawful rent payment as specified in the lease, determined by the parties’ usual practice, in a notice to pay rent or quit, or otherwise in violation of California Civil Code section 1499;
- Refusing to cash or process a full rent payment, as provided for in the rental agreement, or for other thirty (30) days after the Concord tenant tenders the rent payment;
- Failing to maintain a current address enabling the Concord tenant to pay rent;
- Failing to provide the Concord tenant a receipt for rent or other payments in violation of California Civil Code section 1499 and California Code of Civil Procedure section 2075;
- Failing to allow a tenant to pay rent and a security deposit by at least one form of payment that is neither cash nor electronic funds transfer, except where otherwise permitted by California Civil Code section 1947.3(a)(2);
- Where the landlord violates the Concord tenant’s right to privacy, including:
- Requesting information regarding residence or citizenship status, protected class status, or Social Security numbers (except, in the case of a SSN, when required by law), or refusing to accept equivalent alternatives to such information or documentation that does not concern immigration or citizenship status, such as an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (“ITIN”);
- Releasing such information except as required or authorized by law or in violation of applicable law;
- Requesting information regarding a tenant’s relationship status in violation of law;
- Interfering with Concord tenants’ rights to form, organize, or convene tenant unions and tenant organizations, contact other tenants regarding their tenants’ rights, including their organizing and tenant union activity rights, distribute and post this information at the rental property, exercise their right;
- Communicating with a tenant in a language other than English or the tenant’s primary language for the purpose of intimidating, confusing, deceiving, annoying, seriously alarming, or harassing the Concord tenant;
- Communicating with a tenant via text message after the Concord tenant informs the landlord in writing (not via a text message) that the tenant objects to communications via text message;
- Engaging in other repeated acts or omissions of such significance as to substantially interfere with or disturb the comfort, repose, peace or quiet of any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of such rental unit and that cause, are likely to cause, or are intended to cause any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of a rental unit to vacate such rental unit or to surrender or waive any rights in relation to such occupancy; or,
- Securing any modification or wavier of any provision of the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance. Concord Municipal Code § 19.50.020.
How Can a Landlord Abuse the Right to Access a Concord Rental Unit?
As stated above, a landlord’s abusing their right to access a rental unit, as permitted under California Civil Code section 1954, is a form of harassment protected by the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance. Concord Municipal Code § 19.50.020. Examples of prohibited landlord entry and related harassing conduct include, but are not limited to:
- Entry for inspections not provided for by law or entries unrelated to necessary repairs or services;
- Entry or demands for entry at times outside normal business hours except as requested by the tenant or otherwise permitted by California Civil Code section 1954;
- Entry contrary to the tenant’s reasonable request to change the date or time of entry, provided the tenant makes such request twelve (12) hours from the delivery of the notice of entry if the owner has hired a third-party to perform necessary repairs or services;
- Where the landlord has not notified the Concord tenant in writing within 120 days of the oral notice that the property is for sale and informing the Concord tenant they may be contacted for an inspection, entry to show the Concord tenant’s rental unit to a prospective or actual purchaser;
- Photographing or otherwise recording portions of the Concord tenant’s rental unit that are beyond the scope of a lawful entry or inspection as stated in the twenty-four (24) hour notice of entry previously served on the Concord tenant;
- Misrepresenting the reasons for accessing the Concord tenant’s rental unit, as stated on the twenty-four (24) hour notice of entry;
- Entry failing to provide the approximate time window for the entry or where the landlord provides a time window that is unreasonably excessive in time;
- Failing to immediately notify the Concord tenant that entry into their unit for which notice had been given is cancelled; or,
- An excessive number of entries with respect to the reasons stated on the twenty-four (24) hour notice of entry. Id.
May Landlords Retaliate Against Concord Tenants for Exercising Rights Under the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance?
No, landlords may not retaliate against Concord tenants for exercising rights under the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance. Concord Municipal Code § 19.50.030. Unlawful retaliatory conduct includes, but is not limited to, increasing the Concord tenant’s rent, reducing housing services, causing the Concord tenant to vacate their home, or discriminating against the Concord tenant because of the Concord tenant’s exercising rights or remedies afforded under the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance. Id.
How May Concord Tenants Curtail Landlord Violations of the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance?
Concord tenants have numerous options at their disposal when faced with persistent landlord harassment. These range from simply demanding that the landlord cease the harassing conduct to taking the drastic act of filing a lawsuit against a serial harasser. Regardless of the method utilized, Concord tenants equipped with sufficient evidence will likely prevail against their landlord’s harassment.
First, the Concord tenant can demand the landlord stop the unlawful harassing conduct, preferably in writing. Concord tenants electing to send a physical letter should consider sending the mail with tracking and also retain a copy of the letter. If the landlord does not cease harassing the concord tenant after receipt of the letter, the Concord tenant should consider another option.
The Concord tenant may also maintain a detailed log recounting every instance of landlord harassment. Although no set template exists, Concord tenants can, 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 that observed each instance of the landlord’s harassment.
Thirdly, Concord tenants may also file a complaint with the City of Concord. When filing a complaint to the City of Concord, the City requests copies of any supporting documentation. The City of Concord initiate in investigation into the matter. Complaints may be filed online by clicking here or calling the Concord City Attorney’s Office at (925) 671-3160. Please be advised that the City of Concord City Attorney’s does not represent tenants. Instead, the City Attorney acts as a neutral enforcer of the law that investigates complaints and enforces the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance.
Where the harassment pertains to a landlord’s failure to initiate or complete adequate repairs, the Concord tenant should also obtain a Notice of Violation for every habitability issue from the City of Concord Code Enforcement Division. To schedule an inspection, call (925) 671-3075
Under the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, Concord Tenants Can Sue Harassing Landlords for Money Damages
Concord tenants facing pervasive landlord harassment substantially interfering with or disturbing their tenancy have the right to bring a landlord harassment claim in court. The Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance contains a private right of action empowering Concord tenants facing landlord harassment to file a lawsuit in the California Superior Court. Concord Municipal Code § 19.50.040. Under the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, a prevailing tenant facing landlord harassment may recover injunctive relief, actual damage, statutory damages, and money damages. Concord Municipal Code § 19.50.040. The Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance also includes a civil penalty of at least two thousand dollars ($2,000.00) and no more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), per violation. Id. Concord tenants suffering landlord harassment that are sixty-five (65) and older or disabled may recover an additional enhanced penalty of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) for each violation. Id. The Court also has discretion to triple a Concord tenant’s actual damages, including out-of-pocket costs and emotional distress damages. Punitive damages are also recoverable. Id. However, the court may not award both triple damages and punitive damages. It may only award one of the two categories of damages. Additionally, the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance provides for a prevailing tenant facing landlord harassment to recover their reasonable attorney fees and court costs. Id.
As stated above, Concord tenants facing landlord harassment may also obtain an injunction, which is a court order commanding the landlord to refrain from engaging in landlord harassment, against the landlord.
Please note that Concord tenants may recover these damages penalties on top of other remedies, penalties, and punitive damages recoverable by law. Id.
To discuss the Concord Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, the Concord Rent Ordinance, or California Rent Control (AB 1482), contact Astanehe Law to speak with a tenant attorney.
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