Under the common law doctrine of retaliatory eviction, while a landlord may normally evict a tenant for any reason or for no reason at all unless otherwise prohibited by law, a landlord may not evict for an improper reason. In addition to the common law protection against retaliatory eviction, a residential tenant also has statutory protection against eviction in retaliation for exercising any legal right [see CC § 1942.5(c)], such as complaining about discrimination, reporting unsafe conditions about the subject property to the housing authority, or reporting criminal activities to law enforcement. Certain specific retaliatory actions by the landlord are prohibited by statute if they occur within 180 days of specified actions related to tenantability of the premises or other statutory rights related to leasing of a dwelling [CC § 1942.5(a)]. A tenant may bring an independent action against the landlord for both actual and punitive damages for retaliatory eviction
The willful eviction of a tenant is a breach of contract, and thus an action for wrongful eviction is contractual in nature. The tenant is entitled to recover for all detriment that is proximately caused by, or that in the ordinary course of things would be likely to result from, the said breach. In addition, a tenant may recover special damages naturally and proximately resulting from the eviction, including necessary moving expenses and any sum advanced for future rent.
Moreover, a tenant suffering mental anguish and pain or physical injury as a proximate result of wrongful eviction may waive the breach of contract and sue in tort, including an action for intentional infliction of mental distress. If the tenant sues in tort and the landlord has been guilty of fraud, oppression, or malice, exemplary, or punitive, damages may also be recovered.
The moral of the story to Santa Rosa landlords is this; yes it's your property. No, you are not forced to allow someone to live in your property you don't want there. But, regardless of these facts, your reason for eviction can't be wrongful or in any way in retaliation for a tenant exercising what otherwise is a right he or she legally has. Before any landlord decides to evict a tenant they should consult with an experienced Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cotati, or Rohnert Park eviction attorney.
The Law Offices of James V. Sansone is located in Santa Rosa, California and litigates numerous landlord tenant disputes including evictions, contract and lease disputes, evictions after foreclosure, and problem tenants, throughout Sonoma County, Mendocino County, and Lake County, including Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Windsor, Bodega Bay, Ukiah, Willits, Clearlake, Lakeport, and Kelseyville.