Chapter 19.50


19.50.010    Purpose – Definitions – Citation.

19.50.020    Prohibition of residential tenant harassment.

19.50.030    Landlord retaliation prohibited.

19.50.040    Remedies and penalties.

19.50.050    Lawful evictions.

19.50.060    Severability.

19.50.010 Purpose – Definitions – Citation.

(a) Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to deter harassing behavior by residential real property owners, to encourage such owners to follow the law and uphold their responsibility to provide habitable rental properties, and to give tenants legal recourse when they are subjected to harassment by owners.

(b) Definitions. For the purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) “Disabled” shall mean the same as that term is defined in Government Code Section 12955.3.

(2) “Housing services” include, but are not limited to, repairs, maintenance, painting, providing light, heat, hot and cold water, elevator service, window shades and screens, storage, kitchen, bath and laundry facilities and privileges, janitor services, access to exterior doors, entry systems, and gates, utilities (unless separately metered and billed to the tenant by the utility company since the inception of the tenancy, as provided in the lease), refuse removal, furnishings, telephone, parking, the right to have a specified number of occupants or tenants, the right to have pets, utility infrastructure, and any other benefit, privilege or facility connected with the use or occupancy of any rental unit.

(3) “Owner” or “landlord” shall mean any person, acting as principal or through an employee or property manager, having the right to offer residential real property for rent.

(4) “Rental agreement” shall mean an oral or written lease, sublease, or similar agreement between an owner and a tenant for the lawful occupation of residential real property.

(5) “Rental unit” shall mean any building, structure, or part thereof, or land appurtenant thereto constituting or held out as residential real property, rented or leased to a tenant, together with all housing services connected with use or occupancy thereof such as common areas and recreational facilities held out for use by a tenant, regardless of zoning or permitting status.

(6) “Residential real property” shall have the same meaning as that term is defined in Civil Code Section 1954.51, which, for convenience, defines residential real property as follows: “includes any dwelling or unit that is intended for human habitation.”

(7) “Tenant” shall mean any renter, tenant, subtenant, lessee, or sublessee of residential real property together with any other person entitled under the terms of a rental agreement or lease to the use or occupancy of residential real property or a rental unit.

(8) “Tenancy” shall have the same meaning as that term is defined in Civil Code Section 1954.51, which, for convenience, defines tenancy as follows: “includes the lawful occupation of residential real property and includes a lease or sublease.”

(c) Citation. This chapter may be referred to as the “Residential Tenant Anti-Harassment Protection Ordinance” of the City of Concord.

(Ord. No. 22-9, § 5 (Exh. A))

19.50.020 Prohibition of residential tenant harassment.

No owner acting in bad faith shall engage in any of the following acts or omissions, each of which shall constitute harassment:

(a) Quiet enjoyment. Violate or threaten to violate the covenant of quiet enjoyment provided under Civil Code Section 1927 including, without limitation:

(1) Conduct elective renovation or construction of the interior of residential real property without the tenant’s express written advance permission;

(2) Cause, directly or indirectly, the interruption or termination of any utility service furnished the tenant, including, but not limited to, water, heat, light, electricity, gas, telephone, elevator, or refrigeration;

(3) Otherwise willfully violate or threaten to violate Civil Code Section 789.3;

(4) Terminate, interrupt, or fail to provide housing services required by a rental agreement absent a local health or safety emergency (e.g., COVID-19 related gym facility closures, capacity restrictions, or hours limitations) or effect necessary or desirable maintenance, repairs, or renovations and diligently pursuing such to completion. Failure to provide housing services shall include transferring costs to the tenant that by law are paid by the landlord, or charging the tenant for housing services that were not previously charged to that tenant under their rental agreements; or

(5) Other than at the end of a tenant’s lease term, unilaterally impose or require an existing tenant to agree to new material terms of tenancy or a new rental agreement, unless the change in the terms of the tenancy is authorized pursuant to state law, including Civil Code Sections 1946.2(f), 1947.5, or 1947.12, or required by federal, state, or local law or regulatory agreement with a government agency.

(6) Notwithstanding the foregoing, reasonably limiting hours of or imposing conditions on access to certain housing services shall not constitute a violation of this section.

(b) Habitability.

(1) Fail to timely perform repairs and maintenance required by a rental agreement or by applicable federal, state, county or local housing, health or safety laws;

(2) Fail to exercise due diligence in completing such repairs once undertaken;

(3) Fail to timely comply with any notice and order to correct violation issued by the city pursuant to the Concord Municipal Code including without limitation Chapter 8.10 (Sanitation), Chapter 8.25 (Neighborhood Preservation), and Chapter 15.50 (Multi-Family Rental Dwelling Units);

(4) Violate the warranty of habitability provided under Civil Code Sections 1941 and 1941.1; or

(5) Violate the habitability standards and Health and Safety Code Sections 17920.3 and 17920.10.

(c) Access. Abuse the right of access into residential real property as established by California Civil Code Section 1954 or other applicable law. Such abuse includes, without limitation:

(1) Entry for inspections that are not allowed by state law or are unrelated to necessary repairs or services;

(2) Entry or demands for entry at times outside normal business hours except as requested by the tenant or otherwise permitted by California Civil Code Section 1954;

(3) Entry contrary to a tenant’s reasonable request to change the date or time of entry, provided, however the tenant shall make such request 12 hours from delivery of the notice of entry if the owner has hired a third party to perform necessary repairs or services;

(4) Entry to show the residential real property to a prospective or actual purchaser (if the landlord has not notified the tenant in writing within 120 days of the oral notice that the property is for sale and the tenant was informed they may be contacted to allow for an inspection);

(5) Photographing or otherwise recording portions of residential real property that are beyond the scope of a lawful entry or inspection as stated on the notice of entry;

(6) Misrepresenting the reasons for accessing residential real property as stated on the notice of entry, such as using the right of access to collect evidence against the tenant;

(7) Entry that fails to provide the approximate time window for the entry or provides a time window that is unreasonably excessive in time;

(8) Failing to timely notify the tenant that entry into the residential real property for which the tenant was previously given notice has been cancelled; or

(9) Entries that are excessive in number with respect to the reason stated on the notice of entry.

(d) Forced vacation.

(1) Influence or attempt to influence a tenant to vacate residential real property through fraud, misrepresentation, intimidation or coercion, including, without limitation, threaten to report a tenant or other person known to be associated with the tenant to the United States Department of Homeland Security, or otherwise violate Civil Code Sections 1940.2 or 1940.35.

(2) Remove a housing service for the purpose of causing the tenant to vacate the rental unit.

(e) Discrimination. Discriminate against a tenant based on race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, veteran or military status, or genetic information in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA, Government Code Section 12900 et seq.); based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status in violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Civil Code Section 51, et seq.); in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA, 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq.); or otherwise in violation of applicable state or federal law.

(f) Misrepresentation.

(1) Misrepresent to a tenant that they are required to vacate a rental unit or otherwise entice a tenant to vacate a rental unit through misrepresentations or concealment of material facts;

(2) Provide materially false written or verbal information regarding applicable federal, state, county or local tenant protections, including deliberate mischaracterization of the nature or effect of a notice to quit or other eviction notice. False information includes, without limitation, violating Civil Code Section 1632, which requires certain rental agreements to be translated; or demanding that a tenant enter into a rent repayment plan to take advantage of tenant protection laws that do not require such plans; or

(3) Take action to terminate any tenancy including service of any notice to quit or other eviction notice or bring any action to recover possession of a rental unit based upon facts which the landlord has no reasonable cause to believe to be true or upon a legal theory which is untenable under the facts known to the landlord. No landlord shall be liable under this subsection for bringing an action to recover possession unless and until the tenant has obtained a favorable termination of that action.

(g) Rent payments.

(1) Refuse to acknowledge or accept receipt of a tenant’s lawful rent payment as set forth in a rental agreement, by usual practice of the parties, in a notice to pay rent or quit, or otherwise in violation of Civil Code Section 1499;

(2) Refuse to cash or process a full payment rent check or other form of acceptable full rent payment, as provided for in the rental agreement, for over 30 days after it is tendered;

(3) Fail to maintain a current address for delivery of rent payments;

(4) Fail to provide a receipt to a tenant for rent or other payments tendered in violation of Civil Code Section 1499 and Code of Civil Procedure Section 2075;

(5) Fail to allow a tenant to pay rent and deposit of security by at least one form of payment that is neither cash nor electronic funds transfer, except where otherwise permitted by Civil Code Section 1947.3(a)(2); or

(6) This section does not apply to payments from third parties except as required under Civil Code Section 1947.3, partial rent payments, or when accepting payment would waive or could be construed to waive a breach of the rental agreement, invalidate a tenant’s 30-day notice of intent to vacate, or invalidate a three-day notice to pay or quit. For such cases to be excluded from this subsection, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the reason for the failure to accept cash, or process payment.

(h) Privacy. Violate a tenant’s right to privacy, such as:

(1) Requesting information regarding residence or citizenship status, protected class status, or Social Security number (except for, in the case of a Social Security number, for purposes of obtaining information for the qualifications for a tenancy), or refusing to accept equivalent alternatives to such information or documentation that does not concern immigration or citizenship status, e.g. an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN);

(2) Releasing such information except as required or authorized by law or in violation of applicable state and/or federal law; or

(3) Requesting information regarding a tenant’s relationship status in violation of state or federal law.

(i) Tenant unions. Interfere with the right of tenants to:

(1) Organize as tenants and engage in concerted activities with other tenants for the purpose of mutual aid and protection including concerns regarding repairs and maintenance, rent amounts or rent increases, evictions, discrimination, or harassment, regardless of whether the tenants share the same landlord or management company.

(2) Convene tenant or tenant organization meetings in an appropriate space accessible to tenants under the terms of their rental agreement(s).

(3) Contact other tenants and offer such tenants literature informing them of their rights and of opportunities to involve themselves in tenant organizing/tenant union activities.

(4) Distribute and post such literature on bulletin boards or other areas that the owner has designated for tenant use or free speech activities.

(5) Exercise their rights under Civil Code Section 1942.6, which, for convenience, provides as follows:

Any person entering onto residential real property, upon the invitation of an occupant, during reasonable hours or because of emergency circumstances, for the purpose of providing information regarding tenants’ rights or to participate in a lessees’ association or association of tenants or an association that advocates tenants’ rights shall not be liable in any criminal or civil action for trespass.

The Legislature finds and declares that this section is declaratory of existing law. Nothing in this section shall be construed to enlarge or diminish the rights of any person under existing law.

(6) Nothing in this section is intended to require that any owner allow tenant organizers, advocates, or representatives working with or on behalf of tenants living at the residential real property access to such residential real property (e.g., pursuant to Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, 141 S.Ct. 2063 (2021) and progeny) except as expressly provided in Civil Code Section 1942.6 or to the extent such access constitutes a regulatory taking.

(j) Other acts.

(1) Communicate with a tenant in a language other than English or the tenant’s primary language for the purpose of intimidating, confusing, deceiving, annoying, seriously alarming, or harassing the tenant;

(2) Communicate with a tenant via text message after the tenant has informed the landlord in writing (i.e., not via text message) that the tenant objects to communications via text message;

(3) Engage in other repeated acts or omissions of such significance as to substantially interfere with or disturb the comfort, repose, peace or quiet of any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of such rental unit and that cause, are likely to cause, or are intended to cause any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of a rental unit to vacate such rental unit or to surrender or waive any rights in relation to such occupancy; or

(4) Secure any modification or waiver, whether oral or written, of any provision of this chapter. Any such waiver or modification is hereby declared to be against public policy and is void and unenforceable.

(Ord. No. 22-9, § 5 (Exh. A))

19.50.030 Landlord retaliation prohibited.

Under Civil Code Section 1942.5, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for lawfully and peaceably exercising their legal rights. No landlord may take any action increasing any rental amount, reducing any housing service, causing the tenant to involuntarily quit the premises, or discriminating against the tenant because of the tenant’s use of assertion of any rights or use of any remedy provided by this chapter.

(Ord. No. 22-9, § 5 (Exh. A))

19.50.040 Remedies and penalties.

(a) If an owner violates the terms of this chapter, an aggrieved tenant may institute a civil action for injunctive relief, actual, statutory, or direct money damages, and any other relief that the court deems appropriate, which shall include a civil penalty of no less than $2,000, and no more than $5,000, per violation, at the discretion of the court. If the aggrieved tenant is older than 65 or disabled, the court may award an additional civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation, at the discretion of the court.

(b) Any person who violates, aids, abets, or incites another person to violate this chapter is liable in a court action for each and every such offense for money damages of not less than three times actual damages suffered by an aggrieved tenant (including damages for mental or emotional distress), or for minimum damages in the sum of $1,000, whichever is greater, and whatever other relief the court deems appropriate. In the case of an award of damages for mental or emotional distress, said award shall only be tripled if the trier of fact finds that the defendant acted in knowing violation of or in reckless disregard of this chapter.

(c) The court may award punitive damages in a proper case as set out in Civil Code Section 3294 and pursuant to the standards set forth in that code section or any successor thereto, but may not award both punitive damages and triple damages.

(d) The court shall award reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs to a tenant who prevails in any such action. The court shall award reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs to an owner who prevails in any such action if the court determines that the tenant’s action was frivolous.

(e) The remedies available under this section shall be in addition to any other existing remedies which may be available to the residential tenant under applicable federal, state, county, or local law.

(Ord. No. 22-9, § 5 (Exh. A))

19.50.050 Lawful evictions.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as to prevent an owner from lawfully evicting a tenant pursuant to applicable federal, state, county, or local law.

(Ord. No. 22-9, § 5 (Exh. A))

19.50.060 Severability.

If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this chapter is for any reason held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this chapter. The City Council declares that it would have adopted this chapter and each section, subsection, sentence, clause and phrase thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more section, subsection, sentence, clause, or phrase be declared invalid.

(Ord. No. 22-9, § 5 (Exh. A))