Can a landlord, without warning, verbal or written, add fences and gates (with padlocks) to a single family rental?

When we first moved in to this 3br/2ba home with a single car garage that the landlord was using, there was a standard wooden fence around a large grassy backyard. Attached to the house was large wooden deck between the garage & the house. In the last month the landlord has put up fences limiting us to just the deck area & a very small portion of the backyard. The fences are solid wood & about 8ft high, with no less than 9 gates all with padlocks. Now he put a fence up between the back of the house and garage cutting off the deck from our backyard portion, also with a gate & combo lock. He says it is for our safety! However, he built a large shed with bedrooms in the back and converted the garage to studio with kitchen & bath. Gas, electric and water all off our meter. Not returning calls.

Santa Cruz, CA -

Attorney Answers (2)

Michael Ryan Juarez

Michael Ryan Juarez

Landlord / Tenant Lawyer - San Diego, CA

I see two options here. 1) A rent deduction for the loss of use of the backyard. 2) Reporting the conversion to local authorities.

It sounds like an un-permitted conversion for which the city/county could force a take down. If the LL institutes eviction proceeding you can defend by proving it is a retaliatory eviction.

I suggest exhausting all means of communication with the LL in an attempt to come to a compromise before getting the authorities involved.

-Michael R. Juarez Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216 San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 www.jslaw.... more
James Coy Driscoll

James Coy Driscoll

Landlord / Tenant Lawyer - San Francisco, CA

Your have several options, including an action for forcible entry/forcible detainer. Your landlord has apparently set up illegal units on the land that is part of what you rented. You can also file a complaint with the local code enforcement authorities; doing is so is absolutely privileged. However, THREATENING to do so to get him to take down the barriers could be extortion, which is a felony. You should hire a tenants’ lawyer (not a local landlord lawyer) to represent you.

This is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided is a... more

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