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Legal Information: California

Housing Laws

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Updated: 
April 2, 2020

Who is protected under this housing law?

You could be protected under this law if you are a tenant and are also a:

  • victim of abuse;
  • victim of crime; or
  • person in an emergency.1

If your landlord is trying to keep you from calling law enforcement or punish you for calling, you may be protected.1

1 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.8

Who is considered a “victim” or a “person in an emergency” under this law?

You are a victim of abuse if you have been subjected to:

You are a victim of crime if someone has committed a misdemeanor or felony crime against you.2

You are considered a person in an emergency if you believe that immediate action is needed to prevent the loss of or damage to:

  • life
  • health; or
  • property.3

1 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.8(a)(5)
2 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.8(a)(6)
3 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.8(a)(1)

Can a landlord prohibit me from calling the police?

Your landlord cannot state in your lease that you are unable to call the police. Specifically, your lease cannot include any language that would ban or limit you, another resident, or another person’s right to call law enforcement or emergency assistance for:

  • a victim of abuse;
  • a victim of crime; or
  • a person in an emergency.

The person who calls the police must believe that law enforcement or emergency assistance is needed to:

  • prevent or deal with an act of abuse, a crime, or an emergency; or
  • stop the heightening or worsening of an act of abuse, a crime, or an emergency.1

If your landlord does include language in your lease that would keep you from calling law enforcement or emergency assistance, it will be void and unenforceable.1

1 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.8(b)

Can a landlord punish me or evict me for calling the police?

A landlord cannot punish, or threaten to punish, you or another resident for exercising your right to request law enforcement or emergency assistance on behalf of a:

  • victim of abuse;
  • victim of crime; or
  • person in an emergency.1

Your landlord also cannot put any penalties in place if a person who is not a resident or tenant calls law enforcement or emergency assistance to your residence.

To be protected under this law, the person who calls the police must believe that law enforcement or emergency assistance is needed to prevent or deal with an act of abuse, or the heightening or worsening of an act of abuse, a crime, or an emergency.1

1 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.8(c)

What can I do if my landlord evicts me for calling the police?

If your landlord sues to evict you, you can argue as a defense that the landlord violated this law. The judge will assume (presume) that the landlord has violated this law if:

  • your landlord files a complaint to evict you within 30 days of a resident, tenant, or other person making a request for help from law enforcement or emergency assistance; and
  • the complaint alleges that calling law enforcement or emergency assistance is a rental agreement violation, lease violation, or a nuisance.1

The landlord will have a chance to prove that s/he did not violate this law by showing that there was a substantial reason for the complaint other than requesting help from law enforcement or emergency services.2

Additionally, if your landlord violates this law, you can request an injunction. An injunction is a court order that requires a person to stop taking certain actions. The injunction can stop the landlord from:

  • creating or enforcing policies that violate this law; and
  • imposing or threatening to impose penalties against the tenant, resident, or other harmed person based on requesting help from law enforcement or emergency assistance on behalf of a victim of abuse, victim of crime, or person in an emergency.3

1 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.8(f)(1)
2 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.8(f)(2), (f)(3)
3 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.8(g)