The California Tenant Bill of Rights is a living document, a work in progress, to bring together the tenants rights movement and envision the political and social victories the Tenants Together Action Fund hopes to achieve in the coming years. Sign on now to show your support for tenants rights.
The California Tenant Bill of Rights
All California renters, regardless of age, ancestry, class, color, immigration status, national origin, race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, sex, religion, disability, or marital status, have the right to:
- A place to call home
- An affordable rent
- Freedom from arbitrary eviction, retaliation & discrimination
- Safe & healthy living conditions
- Strong consumer protections
- Full & fair access to the courts
- Tenant organizing without interference
- Government policy that prioritizes renters
- Respect and regard equal to that of homeowners
1. A place to call home
No tenant shall be forced into homelessness; the right to one’s home shall be paramount. The right to a home includes the right to privacy within that home.
2. An affordable rent
Californians pay the second highest rents in the nation. Proven strategies like rent control can contain rents. Public ownership, housing subsidy programs, land trusts, and other approaches can provide long-term affordability. State laws like Costa Hawkins present a major obstacle and must be repealed or reformed.
3. Freedom from arbitrary eviction, retaliation & discrimination
Arbitrary eviction remains legal in most of California. Just cause for eviction laws are essential. Tenants deserve security in their homes and must not be displaced except for good cause. Too often, evictions are the result of retaliation and discrimination which are illegal, but enforcement is problematic. The state must outlaw arbitrary eviction and aggressively prosecute retaliation and discrimination against tenants.
4. Safe & healthy living conditions
Slumlords must be held accountable. Tenants across the state are getting sick because slumlords won’t comply with the law. Code enforcement in many communities is useless. Tenants need access to strong code enforcement and recourse against landlords that refuse to make repairs.
5. Strong consumer protections
Tenants regularly deal with exorbitant fees, security deposit theft, credit blacklisting and other abusive practices. Tenants need meaningful enforcement of existing laws and strengthening of weak consumer protection laws.
6. Full & fair access to the courts
The courthouse doors are increasingly shut to tenants. Tenants need the right to counsel when they face eviction. Tenants deserve judges who will apply the law free of property-rights bias.
7. Tenant organizing without interference
The freedom to organize one's neighbors is essential to improving living conditions and building tenant power. There is power in numbers. Tenants must be free to organize without interference by landlords.
Too often, tenants are ignored when decisions are made about our homes and communities. Tenants deserve to have our voices heard, whether on resident councils, in legislative chambers, or through alternative property ownership and governance structures. Housing is a communal resource, even if privately owned, and the owners’ rights must be balanced with the rights of tenants to determine the fate of our homes and communities.
9. Government policy that prioritizes renters
Current government policy favors the interests of property owners over those of tenants. Funding for affordable rental housing has plummeted in the last thirty years. Modest programs like the renters’ rebate have been slashed, while property owners continue to get subsidies. Government agencies routinely fail to enforce tenant protection laws. Tenants deserve better. Fair treatment under the tax code, government enforcement of tenant protection laws, and preservation and expansion of affordable housing must be prioritized. Where development occurs, it must be without displacement.
10. Respect and regard equal to that of property owners
The worth of a human being must not be measured by the ownership of a deed to property.
I stand for safe, decent and affordable housing for all California tenants.