(a) If the lessor retaliates against the lessee because of the exercise by the lessee of his or her rights under this chapter or because of his complaint to an appropriate agency as to tenantability of a dwelling, and if the lessee of a dwelling is not in default as to the payment of his or her rent, the lessor may not recover possession of a dwelling in any action or proceeding, cause the lessee to quit involuntarily, increase the rent, or decrease any services within 180 days of any of the following:
(1) After the date upon which the lessee, in good faith, has given notice pursuant to Section 1942, has provided notice of a suspected bed bug infestation, or has made an oral complaint to the lessor regarding tenantability.
(2) After the date upon which the lessee, in good faith, has filed a written complaint, or an oral complaint which is registered or otherwise recorded in writing, with an appropriate agency, of which the lessor has notice, for the purpose of obtaining correction of a condition relating to tenantability.
(3) After the date of an inspection or issuance of a citation, resulting from a complaint described in paragraph (2) of which the lessor did not have notice.
(4) After the filing of appropriate documents commencing a judicial or arbitration proceeding involving the issue of tenantability.
(5) After entry of judgment or the signing of an arbitration award, if any, when in the judicial proceeding or arbitration the issue of tenantability is determined adversely to the lessor.
In each instance, the 180-day period shall run from the latest applicable date referred to in paragraphs (1) to (5), inclusive.
(b) A lessee may not invoke subdivision (a) more than once in any 12-month period.
(c) To report, or to threaten to report, the lessee or individuals known to the landlord to be associated with the lessee to immigration authorities is a form of retaliatory conduct prohibited under subdivision (a). This subdivision shall in no way limit the definition of retaliatory conduct prohibited under this section.
(d) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), it is unlawful for a lessor to increase rent, decrease services, cause a lessee to quit involuntarily, bring an action to recover possession, or threaten to do any of those acts, for the purpose of retaliating against the lessee because he or she has lawfully organized or participated in a lessees’ association or an organization advocating lessees’ rights or has lawfully and peaceably exercised any rights under the law. In an action brought by or against the lessee pursuant to this subdivision, the lessee shall bear the burden of producing evidence that the lessor’s conduct was, in fact, retaliatory.
(e) To report, or to threaten to report, the lessee or individuals known to the landlord to be associated with the lessee to immigration authorities is a form of retaliatory conduct prohibited under subdivision (d). This subdivision shall in no way limit the definition of retaliatory conduct prohibited under this section.
(f) This section does not limit in any way the exercise by the lessor of his or her rights under any lease or agreement or any law pertaining to the hiring of property or his or her right to do any of the acts described in subdivision (a) or (d) for any lawful cause. Any waiver by a lessee of his or her rights under this section is void as contrary to public policy.
(g) Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) to (f), inclusive, a lessor may recover possession of a dwelling and do any of the other acts described in subdivision (a) within the period or periods prescribed therein, or within subdivision (d), if the notice of termination, rent increase, or other act, and any pleading or statement of issues in an arbitration, if any, states the ground upon which the lessor, in good faith, seeks to recover possession, increase rent, or do any of the other acts described in subdivision (a) or (d). If the statement is controverted, the lessor shall establish its truth at the trial or other hearing.
(h) Any lessor or agent of a lessor who violates this section shall be liable to the lessee in a civil action for all of the following:
(1) The actual damages sustained by the lessee.
(2) Punitive damages in an amount of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than two thousand dollars ($2,000) for each retaliatory act where the lessor or agent has been guilty of fraud, oppression, or malice with respect to that act.
(i) In any action brought for damages for retaliatory eviction, the court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party if either party requests attorney’s fees upon the initiation of the action.
(j) The remedies provided by this section shall be in addition to any other remedies provided by statutory or decisional law.
(k) A lessor does not violate subdivision (c) or (e) by complying with any legal obligation under any federal government program that provides for rent limitations or rental assistance to a qualified tenant.
(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 489, Sec. 6. (AB 291) Effective January 1, 2018.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018