In American landlord–tenant law, a retaliatory eviction is a substantive defense and affirmative cause of action that can be used by a tenant against a landlord. If a tenant reports sanitary violations or violations of minimum housing standards, the landlord cannot evict the tenant in retaliation.
Retaliatory eviction first appeared as a tenant's defense against eviction in Edwards v. Habib, where a tenant was evicted after reporting sanitary code violations. The D.C. Circuit recognized that the eviction was unjustified because it was in retaliation for the reporting of violations.
As a defense
The defense of retaliatory eviction was first recognized in the D.C. Circuit case Edwards v. Habib.
The case Imperial Colliery Co. v. Fout, the West Virginia Supreme Court reaffirmed that retaliatory eviction was a valid defense against eviction, but added the condition that the retaliation must be against a tenant's exercise of a right incidental to their tenancy. Therefore, a defense of retaliatory eviction did not exist for a tenant evicted after participating in a labor strike.
1942.5 is the California Civil Code that establishes a renters rights, and defines a Retaliatory Evection in the state of California.
In 1980 the California Supreme Court issued a ruling in California "Barela v. Superior Court"overturning a lower courts ruling stating that "California has a long history of protecting those citizens who report violations of the criminal laws." The Orange County, California Superior Court had entered a judgment, evicting petitioner, Alice Barela, the California Supreme Court issued a ruling stating the evection was retalitory. "Barela" had called the Santa Ana Police Department to complain that her landlord, Leonardo Valdez, had sexually molested her nine-year-old daughter. Valdez then issued a notice to vacate and filed a Unlawful Detainer proceeding to evict Barela.
As a cause of action
Retaliatory eviction was first recognized as a cause of action in the California case Aweeka v. Bonds. The case recognized the inequity of forcing the tenant to wait until they were confronted with an unlawful detainer action to bring up retaliatory eviction as a defense.
- Casner, A.J. et al. Cases and Text on Property, Fifth Edition. Aspen Publishers, New York, NY: 2004, p. 504
- Imperial Colliery Co. v. Fout, 179 W.Va. 776 (1988)
- Aweeka v. Bonds, 20 Cal.App.3d 278 (1971)