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Legal Information: California

Statutes: California

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Updated: 
April 2, 2020

1946.8. Summoning law enforcement assistance or emergency assistance; lease or rental agreement provisions prohibiting or limiting right void; penalties prohibited; establishing belief; waiver void and unenforceable; affirmative defense; remedies

(a) For purposes of this section:

(1) “Individual in an emergency” means a person who believes that immediate action is required to prevent or mitigate the loss or impairment of life, health, or property.

(2) “Occupant” means any person residing in a dwelling unit with the tenant. “Occupant” includes lodgers as defined in Section 1946.5.

(3) “Penalties” means the following:

(A) The actual or threatened assessment of fees, fines, or penalties.

(B) The actual or threatened termination of a tenancy or the actual or threatened failure to renew a tenancy.

(C) Subjecting a tenant to inferior terms, privileges, and conditions of tenancy in comparison to tenants who have not sought law enforcement assistance or emergency assistance.

(4) “Resident” means a member of the tenant’s household or any other occupant living in the dwelling unit with the consent of the tenant.

(5) “Victim of abuse” includes:

(A) A victim of domestic violence as defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code.

(B) A victim of elder or dependent adult abuse as defined in Section 15610.07 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.

(C) A victim of human trafficking as described in Section 236.1 of the Penal Code.

(D) A victim of sexual assault means a victim of any act made punishable by Section 261, 262, 264.1, 285, 286, 288, 288a, or 289 of the Penal Code.

(E) A victim of stalking as described in Section 1708.7 of this code or Section 646.9 of the Penal Code.

(6) “Victim of crime” means any victim of a misdemeanor or felony.

(b) Any provision in a rental or lease agreement for a dwelling unit that prohibits or limits, or threatens to prohibit or limit, a tenant’s, resident’s, or other person’s right to summon law enforcement assistance or emergency assistance as, or on behalf of, a victim of abuse, a victim of crime, or an individual in an emergency, if the tenant, resident, or other person believes that the law enforcement assistance or emergency assistance is necessary to prevent or address the perpetration, escalation, or exacerbation of the abuse, crime, or emergency, shall be void as contrary to public policy.

(c) A landlord shall not impose, or threaten to impose, penalties on a tenant or resident who exercises the tenant’s or resident’s right to summon law enforcement assistance or emergency assistance as, or on behalf of, a victim of abuse, a victim of crime, or an individual in an emergency, based on the person’s belief that the assistance is necessary, as described in subdivision (b). A landlord shall not impose, or threaten to impose, penalties on a tenant or resident as a consequence of a person who is not a resident or tenant summoning law enforcement assistance or emergency assistance on the tenant’s, resident’s, or other person’s behalf, based on the person’s belief that the assistance is necessary.

(d) Documentation is not required to establish belief for purposes of subdivision (b) or (c), but belief may be established by documents such as those described in Section 1161.3 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

(e) Any waiver of the provisions of this section is contrary to public policy and is void and unenforceable.

(f)(1) In an action for unlawful detainer, a tenant, resident, or occupant may raise, as an affirmative defense, that the landlord or owner violated this section.

(2) There is a rebuttable presumption that a tenant, resident, or occupant has established an affirmative defense under this subdivision if the landlord or owner files a complaint for unlawful detainer within 30 days of a resident, tenant, or other person summoning law enforcement assistance or emergency assistance and the complaint is based upon a notice that alleges that the act of summoning law enforcement assistance or emergency assistance as, or on behalf of, a victim of abuse, a victim of crime, or an individual in an emergency constitutes a rental agreement violation, lease violation, or a nuisance. A reference to a person summoning law enforcement in a notice that is the basis for a complaint for unlawful detainer that is necessary to describe conduct that is alleged to constitute a violation of a rental agreement or lease is not, in itself, an allegation for purposes of this paragraph.

(3) A landlord or owner may rebut the presumption described in paragraph (2) by demonstrating that a reason other than the summoning of law enforcement or emergency assistance as, or on behalf of, a victim of abuse, a victim of crime, or an individual in an emergency was a substantial motivating factor for filing the complaint.

(g) In addition to other remedies provided by law, a violation of this section entitles a tenant, a resident, or other aggrieved person to seek injunctive relief prohibiting the landlord from creating or enforcing policies in violation of this section, or from imposing or threatening to impose penalties against the tenant, resident, or other aggrieved person based on summoning law enforcement or emergency assistance as, or on behalf of, a victim of abuse, a victim of crime, or an individual in an emergency.

(h) Nothing in this section shall be construed as permitting an injunction to be entered that would prohibit the filing of an unlawful detainer action.

(i) This section does not limit a landlord’s exercise of the landlord’s other rights under a lease or rental agreement, or under other law pertaining to the hiring of property, with regard to matters that are not addressed by this section.