Tenant Rights

Affordable Housing Advocates Tenant Rights Project helps tenants with nowhere else to turn. We assist tenants

  • without regard to their immigration status,
  • whether or not their landlord is represented by counsel, and
  • whether or not an eviction action has been filed.

If you have received a notice from your landlord or have questions about your rights you may apply for legal help.

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If you have defects in your unit or complex, take the following steps before seeking legal help.

Download our brochure, to identify what is required to meet minimum standards of habitability. Also see Civil Code sections 1941.1 and 1941.3  and Health & Safety Code sections 13113.7, 17920.3, 17926, 17926.1

Download our Brochure: English, Español

tenant calling about leaking plumbing issue

Step 1

Identify all defects in your unit and complex and take photographs, if possible.

If you have an infestation, to identify what type of infestation you have, take an intact sample of the pest to the County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health, at 5570 Overland Avenue, San Diego, CA 92123. They are open weekdays, except holidays,  from 8:00 am to 5:00 p.m. and can be reached at (858) 694-2888. The service is free. Their written finds must be certified to be admissible in court. For information on how to fight infestations, Click Here.

Step 2

Write to your landlord or management to advise them of the defects and request repairs.

Keep a copy of all correspondence for your records.

Cooperate with all reasonable efforts to repair the defects. You are entitled to at least 24 hours advance written notice before your landlord enters your unit to get estimates or have repair work done. Civil Code Section 1954

Before a unit is fumigated, a licensed pest control company must give written notice that identifies the chemicals to be used, advises how to prepare the unit, how long to stay away, and who to call if you have reactions after returning home. Business and Professions Code Section 8538.

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Step 3

Exercise your rights to ensure repairs are timely and effective.

In the case of an emergency, for example, if the toilet is clogged or a plumbing pipe bursts, repairs should be made right away. If it is not an emergency, then your landlord has a reasonable time, generally 30 days, to make repairs. If repairs are not timely made or are inadequate, then you may report the defects to local code enforcement

If local code enforcement does not ensure that repairs are made, you may apply for our legal services.

If you complain about substandard conditions, which were not caused by you or a guest, and they are not repaired within a reasonable time (no more than 30 days) then for 180 days from the date of your most recent complaint, a code enforcement inspection, or other protected activity, your landlord cannot retaliate against you by:

  • Increasing rent
  • Decreasing services
  • Causing you to move out involuntarily
  • Bringing an action to recover possession
  • Threatening to do any of these things

A notice served within this time period must state the good cause upon which the landlord relies in good faith. Civil Code Section 1942.5.

landlord-tenant law book

If you have lived in your unit for more than 1 year, you are entitled to a 60-day notice to terminate your tenancy, instead of a 30-day notice. Civil Code Section 1946.1(b). If you live in the City of Chula Vista or San Diego, you may be protected from eviction without good cause. If not, you may be covered by the state Tenant Protection Act which requires good cause and caps rent increases to 5% plus the regional increase in the Consumer Price Index. For more information, see “Just Cause Evictions” and “Rent Increases”, under Referrals & Links.

For more information about Tenant Rights, scroll down to Self-Help


You can take action to protect your rights. Click on the following links to learn more:

  • How to Get Your Landlord To Make Repairs, including information about your right to repair and deduct: English, Español
  • Tips for Getting Your Full Security Deposit Back, including sample letters: English, Español
  • What You Should Know About Tenants and Foreclosures: English, Español
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