On June 23, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed the ordinance (L.A. Mun Code 1514.33) which defines tenant harassment in several ways. Under the ordinance, the City of Los Angeles considers the following as tenant harassment:
- Reducing or eliminating housing services required by the lease, contract or law; including eliminating parking provided by the lease;
- Failing to perform and timely complete necessary repairs and maintenance;
- Abusing right of access to the unit, including taking photos of rental units beyond the scope of entry;
- Threatening a tenant, by word or gesture, with physical harm;
- Attempting to coerce the tenant to vacate with offers of payment;
- Misrepresenting that a tenant is required to vacate a rental unit or enticing a tenant through intentional misrepresentation to vacate a rental unit;
- Threatening or taking action to terminate any tenancy including service of any notice to quit or other eviction notice based on facts to which the landlord has no reasonable cause to believe they are true;
- Threatening to or engaging in any act or omission which interferes with the tenant’s right to use and enjoy their rental unit;
- Refusing to acknowledge or accept receipt of lawful rent payments;
- Inquiring as to the immigration or citizenship status of a tenant or prospective tenant;
- Disclosing or threatening to disclose to any person or entity information regarding the immigration or citizenship status of tenant;
- Disclosing or therein to disclose information about the tenant to any government for engaging in legally protected activities;
- Engaging in an activity prohibited by federal, state, or local housing anti-discrimination laws;
- Retaliation, threatening or interfering with tenant organizing activities, including forming or participating in tenant associations or unions;
- Interfering with a tenant’s right to privacy or requesting information that violates tenant’s right to privacy, but not limited to, residency or citizenship status or social security number, except as authorized by law;
- Other repeated acts or omissions of such significance as to substantially interfere with or disturb the comfort, repose, peace or quiet of a tenant(s) and that cause, are likely to cause, or are committed with the objective to cause a tenant(s) to surrender or waive any rights in relation to such tenancy.
This law gives tenants the right to raise these matters as an affirmative defense in eviction cases but also gives the private right of action to bring a case against the landlord in civil court, separate from an eviction. A tenant prevailing in court can be awarded damages to compensate them for their loss, refunds of rent for loss of housing services, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, and a $10,000 fine for each violation. If the tenant is over 65 years of age or is disabled, they can get up to $5,000 in additional awarded damages for statutory penalties.
Violations of the new law also subject the landlord to misdemeanor charges with a fine of up to $1,000 for each offense or by imprisonment in the County jail of not more than 6 months, or both, as determined by the Court.
The ordinance passed 13-0 by LA’s City Council and comes after the L.A. County Board of Supervisors extended the eviction moratorium to Sept. 30.
Laws Are Constantly Changing – Don’t Go It Alone
New ordinances and requirements make a big impact in how to go about protecting your property, the well-being of your tenants and your real estate investment. Kendall Law serves clients throughout Southern California and can help you get the peace of mind and not get into trouble trying to handle these matters on your own. Please reach out to us to explore your best course of action before you take action.
Kendall Law is here to help. Contact us at (310) 619-4941.