Can I sue my landlord for illegal eviction and relocation fees under rent control if I was already forced to move out?
Starting 2 weeks after I moved in, my landlord was constantly trying to come up with reasons I had to move out. He raised the rent in week two. He gave me 4 different reasons I had to go without getting my money back. I refused. He harassed me and eventually strangled me on camera. He is now in court facing assault with a deadly weapon charges. After that he had a friend begin intimidation techniques, stealing my personal property while on camera, lying to police and pretending to be a property manager, turning off utilities, etc. I eventually left out of fear for my safety. I have just been notified by the Housing Department that I have recourse through civil action as the property has been declared an illegal unit and all harassment has been documented and has been deemed an illegal eviction. The owner has been notified that he owes me relocation fees, which would be $11,500 added to any amounts for harassment penalties at $100 each, illegal eviction and any civil award for the assault. I need help collecting.
1 attorney answer
Under Civil Code 789.3, if you landlord turned off your utilities with the intent to force you to vacate the unit, you would be entitled to the greater of $100 per day in statutory damages (per utility) or your actual damages plus reasonable attorney's fees.
Under the RSO, you may also be able to recover the relocation assistance plus reasonable attorney's fees, if you can prove that you would have remained but for the landlord's intimidation.
You may also have tort claims for wrongful eviction, assault and conversion. Whether attorney's fees are recoverable will be depend on the lease.
Finally, there are two critical question. First, the landlord sounds dangerous. Do you really want to get involved with the landlord all over again. Second, does the landlord have collectable assets? Does the landlord still own the property and is there equity in the property.