Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal


In 2011, California Code of Civil Procedure section 1161.3 (Section 1161.3) came into effect providing victims of domestic violence with an affirmative defense against a landlord's eviction action if resulting from an act of domestic violence. Domestic violence victims often are faced with homelessness due to lease provisions that allow eviction due to a violent or criminal act occurring in their rental unit or because of noise complaints from other tenants. After a victim is evicted the victim may have difficulty finding a new rental due to credit issues or a criminal history directly relating to the domestic violence.

This note provides an overview of domestic violence, including common myths and information on victim behavior and an overview of the common housing issues victims face. This note will discuss the lack of clarity in how California courts are going to interpret many of the provisions of Section 1161.3 and the possible interpretations of its provisions. Specifically, how Section 1161.3 should not solely be relied upon by advocates of domestic violence victims because Section 1161.3 may not actually protect victims in the way advocates expect. This note will conclude by offering recommendations to California courts on how to interpret Section 1161.3 and other traditional and proven strategies that may better serve the needs of victims facing eviction.

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