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Bracamontes & Vlasak, P.C.
220 Montgomery Street
Suite 870
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: 415.835.6777
San Francisco Personal Injury

Landlord Unlawful Self-Help Tactics

Landlords cannot shut off a tenant’s utilities for nonpayment of rent. California Civil Code § 789.3 prohibits a landlord from doing so and provides for statutory damages to the tenant where utilities are improperly shut off. Under California law, the tenant would be entitled to actual damages, plus penalties of $100 per day that the utilities are shut off, and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs if the tenant is forced to sue the landlord.

California law disfavors and expressly prohibits a landlord from entering into self-help remedies. For example, a landlord cannot just show up and change the locks when a tenant has not paid rent. Shutting off a tenant’s utilities is another form of self-help which a landlord cannot engage in.

Protecting Tenants Against Unscrupulous Landlords

In our experience, landlords that engage in unlawful tactics, such as shutting off a tenant’s utilities, also fail to fulfill other obligations. Landlords are prohibited from retaliating against a tenant for requesting repairs or reporting the landlord to governmental agencies, such as the city building inspector. Additionally, landlords are required to keep residential units in good repair by providing a permanent heat source (not portable electric heaters), promptly repairing water leaks, and cleaning common areas.

If your landlord has shut off your utilities or retaliated against you, please contact Michael Bracamontes, at 415.835.6777, extension 101 or Ryan Vlasak, at 415.835.6777, extension 102 for a free no obligation consultation. You can also complete our online contact form.

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