Legal Research

There is no “black letter law”. Everything is subject to interpretation by the courts. Laws come from the Legislature as statutes, organized into “Codes”, where the statutes are numbered as “sections” [the symbol §]. For example Civil Code §1950.5 [security deposit law] or Code of Civil Procedure §1161 [the eviction law]. Law also comes from published cases, organized into books and referenced by book number, Book Name, and page number where that case begins, like Green v. Superior Court (1974) 10 Cal.3d 616. Law comes from the State and Federal Constitutions, from federal cases and statutes, and from local ordinances passed by cities. For example, Los Angeles Municipal Code §151.09 is the rent control eviction protections ordinance.  Lawyers specializing this field still need to research, and cannot guarantee what the law is, simply because it is so vast and changing, subject to your judge’s interpretations and the facts of your case as the judge believes. This is no substitute for a lawyer, but is designed to help you familiarize yourself with the actual laws and research process.

Links to the laws Parts to look for [in Civil Code, unless otherwise noted]
General Landlord-Tenant Laws Basic Habitability: 1941.1; Repair and deduct: 1942; Retaliation: 1942.5; 30-day Eviction Notice: 1946;  Security deposits: 1950.5;  Landlord entry: 1954
Evictions Code of Civil Procedure: Residential eviction notice: 1161; commercial eviction 1161.1
Rent increases and other changes see first version of  827: note if  year’s rent raise is over 10%, 60 days notice required add 5 more days if notice is mailed
Lockouts other Self-Help Illegal for landlord to terminate utilities, change locks, etc without court judgment: 789.3
Berkeley Rent Control The one that started it all
San Francisco Rent Control San Francisco City and County
San Jose Rent Control Select “No Frames”, Go to Title 17, select Chapter 17.23 [the rent control section]
Santa Monica Rent Control The most controversial
Los Angeles Rent Control [requires Acrobat Reader]
LA Rent Stabilization BoardLA Rent Control Made Simple
LA Municipal Code: Rental Units controlled: 151.02; Maximum rent: 151.04; registration: 151.05; automatic adjustments: 151.06; Security deposit interest: 151.06.02; Forced rent reduction 1551.06.5; 11 reasons for eviction: 151.09; penalties for landlord violation 151.10; tenant right to withhold excessive rent 151.11
Beverly Hills [most units] The original Beverly Hills rent control – all except luxury and post-1978 constructed units
Beverly Hills [New or Luxury] Beverly Hills 1986 amendment, including luxury and post-1978 construction
West Hollywood Rent Control The reason for Cityhood
Research California Law Find statutes and other sources of California law

Help without Websites:

Beverly Hills Rent Control Hotline 455 N Rexford Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 285-1031

Further Research in Landlord-Tenant Law
    For the real do-it-yourselfers, here are some further resources to use. The following websites generally give overview explanations but not a lot of specific legal references you can use as authority. Telling the judge that you got some information from Consumer Affairs, for example, will not be persuasive, whereas citation to particular cases and statutes stand a better chance of showing the judge that you know what you’re talking about.  It may be a narrow area of law, but landlord-tenant is wily to understand and apply, even for those of us who specialize in it.

California Department of Consumer Affairs Landlord-Tenant Information
Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs Landlord-Tenant Information
Rental Housing On Line [RHOL]