The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday backed a proposal to ban landlords from harassing tenants.
The ordinance defines tenant harassment as “a landlord’s knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific tenant or tenants that causes detriment or harm, and that serves no lawful purpose.”
According to officials, that includes actions like:
- Failing to perform and timely complete necessary repairs, or not following standards to minimize exposure to lead paint, asbestos or other harmful materials.
- Reducing or eliminating housing services required by a lease, like parking spaces.
- Threatening a tenant with physical harm.
- Misrepresenting to tenants that they’re required to vacate.
- Trying to coerce the tenant to vacate the home by offering payments.
- Refusing to accept lawful rent payments required in the lease agreement.
- Entering or photographing a tenant’s unit, beyond the scope of a lawful entry or inspection.
- Disclosing or threatening to disclose information about a tenant to the government to get them to vacate.
- Asking about the tenant’s immigration or citizenship status .
The ordinance also bans any repeated actions that interfere with or disturb a tenant’s comfort to get them to give up their rights to the tenancy.
It doesn’t prevent lawful evictions, but it could make it easier for tenants to pursue a case against landlords for harassment, seeking civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation, or more if the tenant is older than 65 years or disabled.
Under the law, tenants who prevail in court could be compensated for damages or get rent refunds.
After the housing committee approved the ordinance last month, the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles said it would put landlords at risk of being subjected to “frivolous litigation.”
Once drafted by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the ordinance will be again presented to the City Council, which is expected to officially vote it into law.