If you are being harassed, note that you are not alone. In our Tenants Rights clinic we hear about harassment issues weekly. This may happen because landlords may not know your rights, they may not know how to navigate being a landlord, or they could be using it as a tactic of displacement. We are not a legal organization but we can tell you your rights and point you towards additional resources!
In California, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for suing them, asking for repairs and/or enforcing any of their tenant rights.
Landlords are also not able to threaten you with physical or verbal force or with calling ICE, in Oakland tenants and their relatives or acquaintances are also protected against landlord threats to call ICE or other local, state, or federal agency on the basis of their perceived or actual immigration status. They also cannot interrupt your quiet enjoyment of your unit including coming in without your consent, take things out of your unit, or invading your privacy. Oakland also has specific laws that protect many tenants against harassment.
Here are some harassment/intimidation tactics your landlord may be using that aren’t permitted by law. This is not an extensive list but it’s a guide of what we’ll cover.
- Remove outside doors or windows
- Prevent the tenant from gaining reasonable access to the property by changing the locks or using a boot lock or by any other similar method or device
- Remove from the premises the tenant’s personal property
- The interruption or termination of any utility service furnished the tenant
- Fail to perform repairs and maintenance
- Fail to exercise due diligence in completing repairs and maintenance once undertaken or fail to follow appropriate industry repair
- Abuse the Owner’s right of access
- Threaten the tenant or guests, by word or gesture, with physical harm
- Refuse to accept or acknowledge receipt of a Tenant’s lawful rent payment
- Refuse to cash a rent check or money orders for over thirty (30) days unless a written receipt for payment has been provided to the Tenant
- Interfere with a Tenant’s right to privacy
- Request information that violates a Tenant’s right to privacy, including but not limited to residence or citizenship status or social security number – a landlord cannot in bad faith refuse equivalent alternatives to information or documentation that do not concern immigration or citizenship status
- Removing a housing service, such as parking spot
- Elder financial abuse will not be a violation of the Tenant Protection Ordinance in Oakland.
- Currently, there are several ways that a landlord might be able to increase a rent-controlled Oakland tenant’s rent above the amount allowed yearly based on the current CPI amount in the rent ordinance (such as ‘banking’ prior unused increases or a capital improvements petition). The amount of this increase is now capped at 5% in any one year plus the Consumer Price Index change for that year, or 10 percent, whichever is lower, to conform to state law.
If you need to find out information about your unit to make an assessment about your situation. You can call the number below and ask them for: (1) landlord’s full name & address (the address they have on record), number of units on the property, or date built you can call this office and they can quickly help you find the address and name of the property owner.
County Assessor’s Office Room 145
1221 Oak Street
The Count Assessor can help you with the full name and address of the owner of record, the year build and effective year of the property you live, and can tell you how many units are registered to that address. All these pieces if information are public records and therefore are easily accessible. Call them between the hours of 8:30 and 4:30pm.
California Law (for everyone)
- Landlord entry
- there are very specific rules under California law for when the landlord can legally enter, and the landlord must give notice. If the landlord violates these laws in a way that is “significant and intentional,” in order to influence T to move out, T can sue in Small Claims for up to $2,000 per violation.
- Physical or verbal force/threats
- a landlord cannot use, or threaten to use, force, willful threats, or menacing conduct constituting a course of conduct that interferes with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment of the premises
- Utility shut off
- A landlord shall not with intent to terminate the occupancy under any lease or other tenancy or estate at will, however created, of property used by a tenant as his residence willfully cause, directly or indirectly, the interruption or termination of any utility service furnished the tenant, including, but not limited to, water, heat, light, electricity, gas, telephone, elevator, or refrigeration, whether or not the utility service is under the control of the landlord
- a landlord shall not, with intent to terminate the occupancy of a tenant prevent the tenant from gaining reasonable access to the property by changing the locks or using a bootlock or by any other similar method or device
- Locking a tenant out of their home in any way and for any reason is a violation of Civil Code Section 789.3 and Penal Code Section 418. Tenants should call the police as they are supposed to help enforce this law and tenant protection. When the police arrive, they are supposed to talk to the landlord and instruct him/her to allow the tenants to reenter. They can also cite the landlord for violation of Section 418 if he or she refuses to let the tenants reenter. It is important for the tenant to have a copy of a letter documenting the lockout and proof that they reside in the unit. Many officers are not aware of this code or their responsibility in matters of evictions, thus it is especially important for the tenant to be clear about their rights and have copies of documents citing the law.
- Remove doors or windows
- a landlord shall not, with intent to terminate the occupancy of a tenant remove outside doors or windows
- Remove personal property
- a landlord shall not, with intent to terminate the occupancy of a tenant remove from the premises the tenant’s personal property, the furnishings, or any other items without the prior written consent of the tenant
Oakland Law (for everyone)
- Abuse the Owner’s right of access into a rental housing unit as that right is provided by law;
- Remove from the Rental Unit personal property, furnishings, or any other item without prior written consent of the Tenant, except when done pursuant to the procedure set forth in Civil Code section 1980, et seq. (disposition of Tenants property after termination of tenancy);
- Influence or attempt to influence a Tenant to vacate a Rental Unit through fraud, intimidation or coercion, which shall include threatening to report a tenant to U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement regarding an alleged violation;
- Offer payments to a tenant to vacate more than once in six (6) months, after the tenants the Tenant has notified the Owner in writing the Tenant does not desire to receive further offers of payments to vacate;
- Attempt to coerce a Tenant to vacate with offer(s) of payments to vacate which are accompanied with threats or intimidation. This shall not include settlement offers made in good faith and not accompanied with threats or intimidation in pending eviction actions;
- Threaten the tenant, by word or gesture, with physical harm;
- Substantially directly interfere with a Tenant’s right to quiet use and enjoyment of a rental housing unit as that right is defined by California law;
- Refuse to accept or acknowledge receipt of a Tenant’s lawful rent payment, except as such refusal may be permitted by state law after a notice to quit has been served on the Tenant and the time period for performance pursuant to the notice has expired;
- Refuse to cash a rent check for over 30 days unless a written receipt for payment has been provided to the Tenant, except as such refusal may be permitted by state law after a notice to quit has been served on the Tenant and the time period for performance pursuant to the notice has expired;
- Interfere with a Tenant’s right to privacy;
- Request information that violates a Tenant’s right to privacy, including but not limited to residence or citizenship status or social security number, except as required by law or, in the case of a social security number, for the purpose of obtaining information for the qualification for a tenancy, or not release such information except as required or 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 any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of such dwelling unit and that cause, are likely to cause, or are intended to cause any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of a dwelling unit to vacate such dwelling unit or to surrender or waive any rights in relation to such occupancy;
- Removing a housing service for the purpose of causing the Tenant to vacate the Rental Unit. For example, taking away a parking space knowing that a Tenant cannot find alternative parking and must move.