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Can I sue my landlord for not evicting another tenant who has assaulted me multiple times?

Asked by user in California.

The tenant has also pointed a handgun at me and destroyed my property multiple times. There are witnesses.

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

I’m sorry this happened to you.

Under California law, a landlord has a duty to take “adequate and reasonable steps” to protect tenants against the criminal acts of another person on the property if the conduct can be “reasonably anticipated” (see Castaneda v. Olsher).

It sounds like your landlord was told about the potential criminal acts and failed to take reasonable and adequate steps to protect you. As a result, you can sue your landlord (for damages and to force the landlord to evict the problematic tenant). I would recommend reaching out to a California landlord-tenant attorney. You can find one using our free online directory. If you think you qualify for free legal help, I would reach out to the California State Bar. You might also consider forgoing an attorney and taking the case to small claims court.

In the meantime, I would recommend sending your landlord a letter via certified mail with return receipt requested, describing the criminal acts that have taken place, the ongoing threat, and asking the landlord to take the “adequate and reasonable step” of evicting the tenant. You can even include statements from the witnesses in the letter. This way, you’ll have proof that any future criminal acts should have been “reasonably anticipated” by the landlord.

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