10 Reasons to Sue Your Landlord for Negligence

California tenants can sue their landlord for a variety of reasons.

If you cannot resolve a dispute with your landlord verbally, it may be time to take legal action.

Reasons to Sue Your Landlord for Negligence

If you’re like most tenants in California, you probably aren’t trying to create a problem with your landlord.

Sometimes, unfortunately, a problem will develop that cannot be easily resolved through a conversation. These problems are often called landlord-tenant disputes and you may want to consider talking to an attorney about your legal options.

Today, we’re exploring ten common reasons to sue your landlord for negligence so you can make an informed decision regarding how to resolve the dispute.

Reasons to Sue Your Landlord for Negligence

There is a wide range of reasons to sue your landlord for negligence.

Some of these reasons include housing discrimination, illegally keeping your security deposit, and allowing a unit to fall into an uninhabitable state. If you find yourself struggling to resolve one of the following issues with your landlord, it may be time to take legal action.

Related: How Long Do You Have to Take Someone to Small Claims Court?

We recommend tenants discuss their landlord-tenant dispute with an experienced real estate lawyer, as a lawyer will provide a recommendation on how to proceed.

how to find a lawyer in los angeles

A landlord-tenant dispute attorney will have the experience needed to guide you toward a resolution.

Here are 10 common reasons to sue your landlord for negligence:

1. Illegally Holding Your Security Deposit

State laws differ on the specific reasons a landlord can take deductions from your security deposit. He or she cannot take deductions for normal wear and tear on the property. And he or she cannot hold on to your security deposit after your rental agreement is over.

Some landlords will fail to return security deposits and claim falsely that you somehow violated the terms of your lease. This is a time for you to sue.

2. Violated California Security Deposit Laws

Under California law, a landlord is required to return a tenant’s security deposit within 21 days after the tenant has returned the keys and vacated the property. The landlord must also provide an itemized statement of deductions.

Violating security deposit laws is one of the most common reasons to sue your landlord for negligence.

Want to learn more?

Take a look at this breakdown of California landlord-tenant laws on security deposits.

3. Housing Discrimination

Your landlord must abide by the rules of the Federal Fair Housing Act.

If he does not, you may have a legal reason to file a suit. But first, you will have to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This department will investigate your complaint and if it is determined that your landlord committed any housing discrimination, further action will be taken.

4. Illegal Clauses In Your Lease Agreement

Landlords are not free to make up lease agreements with any clauses that go against the landlord-tenant laws in your state and are illegal. If, for example, you own a service animal, it is allowed under the Federal Fair Housing Act. Your landlord cannot refuse to allow you to keep your service animal.

Your landlord cannot put in clauses that absolve him from making needed repairs to the property. And he cannot put in a clause that empowers him to force you to move out any time he wishes.

5. Refuses to Reimburse You for Repair Costs

Your landlord is responsible for maintaining a healthy and safe property for his tenants, along with making any appropriate repairs needed.Your landlord may refuse to make such repairs. If this happens, and you feel it necessary to hire someone else to make these repairs, your landlord should reimburse you for the payment you made. If he refuses again, you may sue him to recover the cost of the repairs plus any possible damages.

6. Allows Your Unit to Become Uninhabitable

Your landlord must keep his units inhabitable. That means providing common services for normal living conditions. This includes heat and running water. If you have an issue with these, you should talk to your landlord. If he refuses to respond appropriately, you usually have the right to notify him that you will withhold rent or move out if the issue is not resolved. You may also sue for this negligence.

7. Fails to Disclose Hazards

This is a big one.

Issues that negatively impact the health of the tenant are some of the most common reasons to sue your landlord for negligence.

Landlords are required to tell you if there are any known hazards from lead paint or mold, existing or previous, on the property. These can provide long-term health implications. Intentionally hiding this information from you is illegal and grounds for a lawsuit.

8. Enters Your Unit Illegally

Landlords are often asked to stop by to check something out or make a repair.

This is done at the request of the tenant. But if a landlord plans to enter your property without an invitation, he must provide reasonable notice, and the planned entry must be for legal reasons. Failure to provide notice or illegal entry can give you cause for legal action.

Related: Can a tenant refuse entry to landlord in California?

9. Allows or Provides Cause for Injury

If you are injured on the property because of the landlord’s neglect to maintain a safe environment, you can file a lawsuit. If you slip and fall due to a lack of legally required stair rails or banisters or wet floors without warning signs, you may have a case for landlord negligence. You cannot sue, however, if your fall was the result of your own carelessness.

10. Illegal Eviction

Whether there has been some disagreement or not, your landlord may just decide to evict you without any legal cause. He may just try to take back the property without going through the eviction process (a form of harassment). He may file a lawsuit against you. You can go to court to defend yourself. But you can also countersue that he is trying to evict you illegally.


If you’re unable to resolve a landlord-tenant dispute through conversation, you may need to explore your legal options.

We’ve outlined just a few of the reasons to sue your landlord for negligence, so it may be in your best interest to seek guidance from an experienced real estate lawyer. Whether you decide to try to resolve the matter in small claims court or hire the help of a lawyer is up to you.


23 replies
  1. Christina Trejo says:

    I have a 1-year lease for an apt in CA and it’s been over a month and my landlord has not fixed the building. Code enforcement has not passed inspection. Landlord rented me an office space until the apt was done but that is not going to happen for a while. He now gave me a letter to move out of the office and code enforcement was coming to remove me. I have spent all my money on eating out daily for two adults.

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:


      If you haven’t already, consider reporting the building code issue to the city. Depending on the issue, a citation will require the landlord to perform repairs within a specific timeframe.

      We’re sorry to hear about your situation. If you’re considering your legal options, give us a call and we’ll help schedule a free consultation with an attorney near you.

  2. Simeon clark says:

    My landlord is suing me for rent and hra had already paid back my backed up rent but why do i still got to go to court to be sued? He wasnt getting his rent because my ceiling fell it took him a while to fix that and i went 2 months with no stove not once but twice in 2 years that i lived here. Had to eat out every day with money i aint have landlord told me he will pay me back but never did. Plus i do not have recipes because my pizza store dont give it out but on his carmaras he can see 3 times a day we eatting out bringing pies of pizza home

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:


      You may be able to take legal action here. If you need help getting started, please let us know and we’ll schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney near you.

      Phone: (818) 340-4529

  3. Deborah Sanchez says:

    My apartment has mold over a month they cut and removed mold in kitchen and bathroom..both times didn’t seal anything off immediately everyone in the house couldn’t stop coughing all night. So I took the kids to go get checked out to find out they have ear throat sinus infections then next week later they developed respitory problems. we paid out of our own pocket to get the apartment tested for mold came back high levels and moisture .She let 15 days go by wouldn’t say anything to me ignore me untill she hired her own company refuses to tell me the results all she says is contact management company they never answer my calls I don’t know what to do. I told her the date of my inspection almost 3 weeks ago the wall was detected to have water in the walls and told her but she still covered up the wall they ripped out sealing it without drying now it’s going on three weeks and the mold has most definitely spread.Can she held responsible she knew there is mold and told her not to seal the wall they ripped out I repeatedly told her don’t take my word of it have one of your handymen use their monitor to detected if there’s moister she just ignored me knowing my two year olds are seriously sick

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:

      Hi Deborah,

      We’re sorry to hear you’re experiencing this problem. Landlords must provide their tenants with a livable environment in most states, regardless of how much rent you pay. Safety plays a big role in this requirement, so it sounds like you may be able to take legal action.

      If you would like to speak with an attorney who handles landlord-tenant matters, give us a call at or fill out the form on this page: /find-a-lawyer/

  4. Rosie murillo says:

    My son and family (4 kids) 4 month baby are renting a home the plumbing broke and my son fixed it credit 200 on rent the plumbing broke againg where the toilet waste goes out side to the back yard and water comes up the tube. The owner told my son he would have to move in order to fix it. This was 2 months ago my son hasnt found a place to move his family. But yet every first of the month the owner is there to collect the rent in full. What advise do you suggest he takes (my son).

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:

      Hi Rosie,

      Landlords are required to provide tenants with a livable environment, which covers basics like hot water, heat, and plumbing. If they fail to meet this requirement, you may be able to withhold rent, sue the landlord, or move without notice.

      In this case, we recommend speaking with an attorney for guidance. We can set up a free consultation if you’d like – give us a call or fill out the form on this page to get started: /find-a-lawyer/

  5. Misty Frazee says:

    I am staying in one of my mother’s properties with my 3 year old Autistic son.I put hundreds of hours worth of work in this house to make it livable.She comes over whenever and lets herself in even if I am not there.Now she decided that she wants to move back in this house and told me I could move to her condo then without notice 2 days ago she sold the condo and told me I had to move out right away and is moving her stuff in the garage.I am so stressed out that I can hardly function

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:

      Hi Misty,

      Do you have a lease agreement? The law requires a landlord to follow a specific set of steps when evicting a tenant.

      If you would like to speak with an attorney, give us a call or fill out the form on this page: /find-a-lawyer/

  6. micheala says:

    does landlord have the right to intervene with tenants, especially if tenants has illegal weapons and fired the gun thought someone was breaking in but no one was there, his delusional due to his medications his in late 60’s. fasf forward this fucker filed RTO to other tenants because we are all witness. If the landlord would have done a background check then this could avoidable. I want to sue landlord for neglected, is that something i can do. thanks in advance.

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:

      We recommend speaking with an attorney regarding this matter. We can help set up a free consultation to get started if you would like.

      Give us a call or complete the form on this page to get started: /find-a-lawyer/

  7. Anonymous says:

    My lease was up april of 2018 I finally decided to move out due to thee entire time i lived there i complain to him about the tenants he was moving in the building selling drugs destroying the building and keeping nasty garbage every were. I was discussed because he did care how I complain be never did anything to change and it now he saying I owe 2
    Months rent and I don’t I should not have to pay nothing all the suffering I went through with his drug addict tenentand sleepless nights I had from all the fighting every night in my hallways thugs hanging in my halls rats roaches etc.what should i do

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:

      It might be beneficial to pay the rent you owe so your landlord doesn’t send your account to collections and tarnish your credit.

      Once you’re settled, you can explore your legal options – for a free consultation with an attorney specializing in matters like this, give us a call or fill out the form on this page: /find-a-lawyer/

  8. S Raavi says:

    We leased an apartment in Dallas which is inhabitable at the tine I’d move in because of roaches, pet hair everywhere and dented bath tub. We informed management the same thing and they cleaned, repainted and disinfected the house which took close to two months of time. As we flew’d from different country we had no other place to go and stay and the management refused to provide an alternate accommodation too during this time frame. In the meantime I became terribly sick, got diagnosed with allergies due to roaches and lead in paint and now dealing with medical expenses… my property manager is not cooperative and doesn’t respond to the emails.. it’s like by signing the lease, I have also traded my family’s health..How do I deal with this situation.

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:

      Hi Raavi,

      Landlords must provide tenants with a livable environment in most states, so it sounds like you may be able to take legal action. Have you considered discussing this matter with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant matters?

  9. Sonia says:

    I’ve lived in my apartmental for 18 years and since March of 2018 I’ve had issues with my bathroom there’s 91 tenants and renovations started on November 17 2018, which means three days out for remodeling on your bathrooms and kitchen only I’m in #14 they have done skipped me the only repairs I’ve gotten were the fence out back lights in side ac unit and I was given a notice to replace front door on 1/10/-2019 no one’s showed up but are entering apartment to take pictures of the things already done it’s never the same person by the way entering before they leave me struggling like the rest of the tenants is there any way to refuse
    The work being not professionally done the manager has moved in family members and there apartments are fully accommodated with carpet screen doors she’s discriminating the few of us that have been struggling to get the workers to finish there job she’s not been far and this is a under hud.what can I do

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:

      Hi Sonia,

      Sorry to hear about this frustrating experience. You can explore your legal options with an attorney specializing in tenant-landlord matters.

      We can set up a free consultation if you’d like – give us a call or fill out the form on this page: /find-a-lawyer/

  10. Hillary Perez Ortiz says:

    My family and I (we are eight in total) moved into a two-bedroom apartment in the second floor around three years. We moved in because we had no other place to go and the managers we had at the beginning of our lease approved of our conditions. We hadn’t had any problems until more or less a year and a half ago. We were given new management that lives in the apartment right under us. They complain we make too much noise and bang their ceiling to quiet us down. However, we are not home most of the time. I have two Autistic children in my apartment and they have mandatory therapies at home EVERYDAY. At first, the children and the therapists would play inside our home, but the managers would bang the floor for any noise as accidental as it may be, therefore they would have therapeutic sessions out in the yard the complex has to prevent any disturbances. When they were outside, the children would tend to play and run and the managers would constantly come to tell the therapists that they couldn’t play outside and be running by the bushes. They put up “wired fences” to keep them out of the bushes and they would hose down the yard right when the therapists would arrive. Notice: there is no sign anywhere stating that playing and running was prohibited. They made themselves a parking right in front of the fire lane which also blocks the dumpster disposal. They don’t let any visits of ours come into the parking lot at all, even if for two minutes, because they will call the cops. My parents have tried talking with them and the managers are very explosive when my parents point out anything they are doing. Would I be able to sue them?

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:


      We’re sorry to hear you’re going through this. An attorney specializing in landlord-tenant disputes will be able to provide the most accurate answer and guidance. We can help arrange a free initial consultation for you if you would like – please give us a call at (818) 340-4529 or complete the attorney request form here to get started.

  11. Stevona says:

    I have a one year lease after a fire 6 months ago I returned to my newly remodeled apartment where I killed 3 mice in the first month I reported the mice to the leasing office 2 or 3 they bring out glue traps n sealed the heating vent everytime that did not work so I went out and got some different traps and caught 2 mice then I threatened to withhold my rent after seeing the 3rd mouse and they finally sent out pest control who came in and did the same exact this out down glue traps and seal up the heating vent after while I just bought more mice traps and I caught the last one after a month I didn’t see any more mice but now my sink in the kitchen is leaking for the second time but this time there was a hold in the sink from it been so wet and I had bucket under there maintenance came out and did nothing but put a extra piece of wood on top to cover the hole that can potentially turn into mold under that wood and 2 days later I’m washing dishes and the pipe is loose again and is leaking water under the sink again same problems over and over and nothing is actually been fixed I have a newborn daughter and I can not risk living under these unsuitable conditions

  12. Eric says:

    The apartment complex we live in has known brothels operating out of it. The police are aware of them, but the complex does not do anything about it. We have a young daughter and do not feel safe letting her play outside in the “common areas” due to these things going on. Is there anything we can do about it?

    • SFVBA Attorney Referral Service says:


      We’re sorry to hear about this and understand your concern. Have you tried notifying the local authorities?

      You may be able to take legal action against your landlord for failing to address safety concerns on the property. For the best legal guidance, we recommend speaking with an experienced tenant lawyer.

      If you’re in Los Angeles County, we can help set up a free consultation for you – tell us a little more about the matter on this page


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.