Landlord's unjust enrichment or theft and extortion?

Asked over 3 years ago - San Diego, CA

If a landlord agrees that a tenant make major repairs to a rental unit in return for rent but then reneges and threatens to otherwise evict the tenant unless they agree to no reimbursement, must the tenant sue under unjust enrichment, or does California Civil Code 1940.2, which refers to Penal Code 484 (theft) apply? If the landlord at the same time also tries to extort the same tenant’s repair work by inducing fear by threatening to falsely accuse the tenant of crime (Penal Codes 518 and 519) such as trespass in order to force consent, would Civil Code 1940.2 also apply? Would it be necessary to prove or report the violations of the Penal Code in order to use Civil Code 1940.2?

Additional information

The agreement was not in writing but there are many emails which confirm it. The rental is month to month at $650. The owner agreed to reimburse in rent for major repairs, the repairs were done, the cost was very low and reasonable, but then the owner refused using excuses to reimburse only very little ($160 instead of over $2,000). Because I did not agree, the owner then resorted to a personal vendetta, leaving menacing messages at 4 AM, describing me as a terrible person, threatening to (falsely) accuse me of criminal trespass on adjacent premises, trying to obligate me to pay rent before reimbursing me as agreed, raising the rent from $650 to $1,000, and then giving me a 30 day notice, all within a couple weeks, basically a classic out of control landlord power trip, and in effect stealing the agreed to work and my labor.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Justin C. Lowenthal

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . Please provide additional information about your agreement with the landlord. Were the terms of the agreement stated in the lease? In fact, was there a lease? Were the major repairs actually performed? There could be quite a few issues here and this additional information will help my colleagues and I answer your question.

    Justin C. Lowenthal, Esq.

    Disclaimer: The content of this response has been prepared for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The material presented is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship, and readers should not act upon it without seeking the advice of independent professional counsel.

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