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Landlord neglected apartment and harassed me until I was forced to move. Is this constructive eviction?How to determine damages?

Los Angeles, CA |

I moved out of an apartment last month after a long drama with a very bad landlord. I had lived in my old rent-controlled apartment for five years. The bad landlord bought the property a year ago, which is when my troubles began.

Here is what the landlord did:

1) Tried to raise rents in violation of LA rent control laws
2) When tenants resisted by contacting legal aid, he refused to perform maintenance on units
3) When cited by the LA housing department, he made threats of breaking into units and stealing property
4) He filed multiple eviction cases against me and other tenants alleging things that never happened. The other tenants and I won all cases. He says he will keep filing eviction cases until we leave.

I moved out last month because I could not take the stress any more CONTINUED

Do these events add up to constructive eviction? The new apartment I am renting costs $350 per month more than I was paying under rent control. It's also a less desirable unit. I'm considering filing a lawsuit because of this, but I'm not sure if I am entitled to damages or how they would be calculated. I understand that tenants who are made to move from rent-controlled units are entitled to relocation costs. Would these be recoverable?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Certainly threats of breaking into the units and stealing property sounds like constructive eviction. The others sound bad. Whether refusing to maintain the units is constructive eviction depends on what he was refusing to do.

    From what you described, you may have a malicious prosecution claim against your landlord. Such a claim is not something you should do yourself. Speak to an attorney to discuss the benefits and risks.

  2. With regard to your potential right to relocation fees under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), you typically cannot recover the relocation fees if you voluntarily move out from a rental unit covered by the RSO. You should contact the LAHD. for more information.

  3. Your best recourse would be to file a civil suit against your former landlord. I think you can sue him in small claims court if your claim amount is less than $10,000.

    DISCLAIMER—This answer is for informational purposes only. It doesn't constitute legal advice. This answer doesn't create attorney client relationship.

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