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Got an eviction notice? This California website will help you file a response.

In April, Juan Carlos Cruz Mora received an eviction notice from his landlord that alleged he caused property damage and dirty, unsafe living conditions in the Sacramento suburb duplex he had called home for the last 10 years. He had only five days to file a response in court.

Mora, who blamed his landlord for those issues, tried to file an answer with the court himself but feared a mistake could land him, his wife, and his two young children on the street. He said he paid a lawyer $1,000 to help.

“With one word I could lose the case,” he said in Spanish.

What rights do tenants have against illegal eviction in California?

California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued recent legal guidance in response to a rise in illegal eviction lockouts along with a call for law enforcement to intervene.

Nearly 1.5 million renters in California are at risk of eviction. In San Diego County, the Legal Aid Society said it is seeing a surge of people who have been evicted by their landlords illegally.

Sacramento renter reported code violations to city. Now she’s facing eviction

About six weeks after a Sacramento woman called the city to report code violations at her rental home, she came home to find a letter taped to her door.

Yanika Gilbert, 39, and her nephew, 15, had just three days to get out of the south Sacramento house or the landlord would file eviction paperwork at the courthouse, the letter said. With nowhere to go, the pair did not leave.

The eviction is now underway. If they have to go, Gilbert said she will not only become homeless, but also could lose custody of her nephew Dimitris Gilbert, who’s been in her care for the last decade.

California AG puts law enforcement on notice over illegal evictions

Citing “numerous” reports of illegal evictions throughout the state, California Attorney Rob Bonta on Wednesday took steps to make sure law enforcement officers are working to prevent tenants from losing their homes without a valid court order.

Illegal or “self-help” evictions take many forms, including a landlord changing the locks on someone’s home without authorization, shutting off the water or electricity in an attempt to force a tenant out, or removing a renter’s personal property, Bonta said during a virtual media briefing. In an effort to stop those breaches of law, Bonta issued legal guidance that lays out a law enforcement officer’s responsibility to intervene.

California can’t deny pending applications for rent relief while its denials are under review, judge says

Since last spring, California has passed along federal aid to hundreds of thousands of low-income renters who faced debt and possible eviction because of the pandemic. But the state has also denied funds to nearly one-third of the applicants, sometimes with little explanation, and a judge says he will prohibit housing officials from denying any more rental-assistance applications while the legality of their actions is under review.

Although it’s not clear whether the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development has improperly rejected applications to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, or failed to adequately explain its rejections, the hardships of any wrongdoing fall entirely on the renters rather than the state, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch said at a hearing Thursday.

Judge orders California to stop denying rent relief applications

A judge has ruled the California Department of Housing and Community Development must stop denying applications for COVID-19 rent relief money, amid a lawsuit filed by tenants’ advocates, who argue the state has unfairly withheld money from low-income renters.

Tenant advocate groups sued the state alleging it wrongly denied tens of thousands of applications, failed to provide adequate reason or explanation for denials, and did not provide a proper appeals process.

Court orders California to pause denying pandemic rent aid

An Alameda County judge has ordered the state housing department to pause denying applications for pandemic rental assistance after tenant advocates filed a lawsuit alleging officials have unfairly withheld aid from struggling renters.

Advocates contend the state’s $5.2 billion emergency rental aid program has failed to give tenants enough opportunity to appeal denials and has discriminated against some Latino and Asian renters by providing application information only in English.

Richmond tenants are pushing back against rent hikes, alleging poor living conditions

When Irene Maldonado became pregnant with her second child four years ago, she and her husband realized they could not continue living in San Francisco if they wanted to provide a home big enough for their growing family.

They eventually moved into the Bissell Avenue Apartments in Richmond’s Iron Triangle neighborhood. But while the two-bedroom apartment’s $2,000 rent was more manageable, Maldonado, who works as an enrollment specialist for social services, questions whether living in the complex is worth even that much, complaining of allegedly faulty plumbing, dirty red carpet lining the outside stairs, crumbling kitchen and bathroom cabinets, deteriorating balcony supports and an unresponsive maintenance staff.