On October 5th, 2022, The Brinton Firm won an important trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Stanley Mosk Courthouse on behalf of a disabled tenant who had been severely harassed by her landlords.
The tenant, RM, testified that numerous unrepaired habitability problems persisted at the defendants’ property for a number of years. Plaintiff also testified that Defendants had served at least three illegal eviction notices on her. These eviction notices, along with several citations from government agencies deeming the property uninhabitable, as well as a variety of photos establishing uninhabitable conditions, were admitted into evidence.
Additionally, RM testified at trial that the landlord threatened to put a bullet in her head. The tenant had been living in a slum building for years and the tenant had made multiple attempts to contact the housing department.
Two housing department inspectors testified at trial that they had previously cited the property in relation to the tenants' requests.
Defendants testified in their own defense. Remarkably, Defendants admitted to a variety of misconduct in their testimony. To give only one example, RM had previously testified that a defendant was arrested for threatening to kill her. The defendant admitted the arrest but denied threatening to kill RM; instead, he claimed he was arrested for throwing a bottle of bleach at her, apparently on the theory that throwing bleach was less blameworthy than making a verbal threat. The landlord also admitted to serving numerous illegal eviction notices.
A separate maintenance worker for the property who testified at the trial confirmed that the landlord was arrested for throwing a bottle of bleach at the tenant.
The tenant won the trial and received an award of about $38,000
An additional follow-up to the case is that there will be additional judgments against the landlord.
This is an important milestone for California tenants as it further instills that slum landlords operating properties in California will not get away with harassment against tenants and that California Civil Code § 1942.5 was enacted for this very reason.
It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for complaining to a government agency about uninhabitable conditions. Landlords who retaliate against their tenants can be found liable for punitive damages of up to $2,000.00 for each violation of the law. Tenants do not have to be actually evicted or constructively evicted to be awarded damages for harassment. Additionally, the state’s anti-retaliation statute prevents a landlord from harassing a tenant after the tenant has asserted rights under law. Cal. Civ. Code § 1942.5.
“This is not just a win for our client, but for any other tenant facing a similar situation. Landlords need to realize that they do not have unlimited power over their tenants, and cannot subject them to harassment and abuse without consequence. We hope this decision will bring more landlords accountable for their actions”, added Brinton Firm partner Matthew L. Brinton, who tried the case on the client’s behalf.
This is an important case that may affect how landlords are held accountable for their actions. The Brinton Firm will continue to fight on behalf of tenants who have been wronged by their landlords. If you or someone you know has been a victim of landlord harassment, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.
At the Brinton Firm, we believe that all tenants have the rights to a safe and livable home. No client or tenant should have to endure substandard conditions or suffer under landlords who refuse to follow the law.
We never represent landlords because we believe in fighting for the rights of renters. We advocate for renters in state and local courts, fighting to ensure that no renter has to endure retaliation or punishment from a landlord.
Our landlord tenant lawyers have experience standing up for tenants in landlord tenant disputes and are ready to help anyone who is facing landlord-tenant issues. We understand the importance of having a safe home, so let us help you today!
We represent clients throughout California, and we’re here to stand up for your rights as a landlord or a tenant. Contact us at our website or call us at (213) 529-0888 to speak with one of our landlord tenant attorneys today. With The Brinton Firm on your side, you can feel confident that your rights will be fought for and protected. Let us help you get the justice you deserve!
For more information, visit The Brinton Firm at www.brintonfirm.com.