Getting evicted for Christmas

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Community groups made progress in 2019 for California tenants, and 2020 brings more opportunities. I work for one of those community groups. When I started, I was surprised by the lack of legal rights for tenants. It reminded me of when we had no rights as an LGBT community.

There are so many homeless and living in the street or in their cars because it is so easy for landlords to uproot tenants. Starting on January 1 when the new AB 1482 law goes into effect, it won’t be that easy. But what if your owner wants to evict you or is raising your income excessively now. After the law was passed, unscrupulous owners began wanting to evict tenants so as not to have to respect their new rights. Have you looked into whether you can fight this?

The first step is to know your rights. You may have a stronger case if the new law actually protects you, and that depends on both the building you rent and the time you have been renting. The statewide organization Tenants Together has developed a toolkit that helps you figure this out. It asks you several questions and depending on your answers it explains if the new law covers you. It may also help defend you in particular cases of abuse by your owner. At the end the toolkit includes several prepared letters that you can fill in with your information and print if:

– Your landlord gave you an eviction notice without justification after September 11;

– Your owner gave you an increase more than allowed under the new law after September 11, 2019; or after March 15, 2019.

But also seek help and legal support. You can find non-profit legal support at https://lawhelpca.org. This website introduces you to the various legal support agencies in your area. Call and find out if you qualify to receive their support, as many have criteria based on your income or immigration status. Some groups may charge and that does not mean they are bad, but you do have to be careful with scammers.

Finally, there is one more step you can take. Find a community group that supports tenants and together with others in your community, advocate for your city councilmembers to stop these unscrupulous owners. Tenants like you have achieved this in the following cities: Alhambra, Baldwin Park, Bell Gardens, Capitola, Daly City, Long Beach, Los Angeles (city), Menlo Park, Milpitas, Pasadena, Pomona, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo (city), Santa Cruz (city), Santa Cruz county unincorporated, South Pasadena and Torrance. United they were able to protect all tenants in these cities from these abusive owners.

Even when the new law goes into effect, we will have to keep fighting for our rights to be respected since the law does not designate any state or local agency to enforce the law. This means that you will have to file a lawsuit if your own advocacy does not yield results.

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