Yes, the landlord does have the right to evict a tenant for violation of a covenant in a lease or rental agreement by first serving a 3 day notice to perform covenant or quit. Whether or not the acts to evict such tenant would constitute retaliatory eviction is a question of fact. Pursuant to Civil Code section 1942.5, California law assumes that the landlord has a retaliatory motive if the landlord seeks to evict the tenant (or takes other retaliatory action) within six months after the tenant has exercised any of the following tenant rights:
1) Using the repair and deduct remedy, or telling the landlord that the tenant will use the repair and deduct remedy.
2) Complaining about the condition of the rental unit to the landlord, or to an appropriate public agency after giving the landlord notice.
3) Filing a lawsuit or beginning arbitration based on the condition of the rental unit.
4) Causing an appropriate public agency to inspect the rental unit or to issue a citation to the landlord.
This is a defense to an unlawful detainer lawsuit. First the tenant must prove that he or she exercised one or more of these rights within the six-month period, that the tenant's rent is current, and that the tenant has not used the defense of retaliation more than once in the past 12 months. Then, if the tenant produces all of this evidence, then the landlord must produce evidence that he or she did not have a retaliatory motive.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.