Counsel, Advocacy & Representation for California Tenants

When Does a tenant need a lawyer?

Get Professional Legal Counsel for Tenants. Knowledge,  Expertise & Advocacy

Don’t suffer through unnecessary hardships. Assert your tenant rights effectively.

In an ideal world, everyone would work through their disputes by listening carefully and treating our neighbors as we would want to be treated. Unfortunately, Southern California is not an ideal world. That’s where we come in.

Whether you are in need a lawyer because you are facing eviction, being forced to live slum conditions, or if your landlord has locked you out, shut off utilities, has made illegal threats, or has even broken into your home without your permission, then it’s time to act.

Understanding Your Tenant Rights

Many tenants are shocked and dismayed to find themselves in a difficult dispute with their landlord. The truth is landlords are not in the business of leasing for love of humanity.  They are in it for the business – pure and simple. Your landlord may act like he’s your buddy, but when it comes down to the brass tacks, what you have is not a friendship.  It is a contract.

Landlords don’t have a right to simply collect rent and then disregard you. They have legal duties to uphold, but they often won’t unless you act to hold them responsible. When the relationship breaks down because a tenant begins to assert his or her rights, or the landlord wants to avoid legal obligations, then most landlords won’t hesitate to make threats, harass, employ oppressive property management and then call their lawyers.

Holding Landlords to their Responsibilities

Many tenants think that if only they could make the landlord understand their situation better, they could avoid trouble. What the landlord often understands is that filing a lawsuit to evict a tenant (also called an unlawful detainer) can usually resolve his or her “problem” more quickly and more cheaply than listening and working through disputes, or working with you through difficulties. Many tenants are surprised to find that the same is equally true for them. The right lawyer can save tenants money and actually help resolve the dispute with your landlord more quickly.

Get legal assistance to prepare in advance

Avoiding the problem you face with your landlord will seldom bring about a positive result, and will usually end up costing you more, and may even increase the risk of ending up in court.

Tenants rights advocacy will help to get the landlord’s attention.

Whether it is trouble making the rent payment, or the landlord’s refusal to fix the problems with the plumbing, it is better to take the situation in hand. Getting the assistance of a lawyer early on can save you money and stress in a variety of ways.

When your landlord or property manager refuses to listen, and continues to make unlawful demands, or refuses to live up to his or her responsibilities, then we can advise you about what is the most prudent and effective course of action to pursue.

Sometimes you just need a forceful voice to speak for you. We’re here for that too. We cannot promise we will resolve situation, but we will stand behind our word, and equip you to take the next steps to assert your rights.

Know Your Lawyer

Marc D. Whitham

Marc D. Whitham is a San Diego tenant rights lawyer who has devoted his career to representing tenants with all aspects of their legal needs.  He has defended and advocated on behalf of thousands of tenants in defending  against eviction, fighting unlawful rent increases, recovering damages from negligent slumlords and unpermitted rentals.  He offers counsel and advocacy, and works closely with seasoned litigators to provide the most complete & tenacious representation for tenants facing trial.  

Tenants' Rights Matter. We Will Make A Difference.

 Tenant Defenders Offers Affordable Legal Assistance in San Diego & Throghout California

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If you are still uncertain If we can help, fill out the form below in order to explain your situation, and we will reply to you.


Get Representation

If you have a situation that is more than a question, and are already having a dispute with your landlord, then information alone is often not enough to settle the matter to your advantage. What most renters need, but seldom have, is an attorney who knows the law, and the landlord’s duties under the law, and is not afraid to advocate for tenants.

Even the most informed tenants can find the court system overwhelming.  Defending against eviction on your own is more than just challenging.  Fort the unprepared and unrepresented it is an ordeal filled with traps.  Tenants who go to court without an attorney frequently enter into bad agreements and suffer humiliation at the hands of the landlord’s lawyers. Having an experienced attorney on your side will make a difference.

Get Informed

If your situation is not a lawsuit in court, but rather a question, or a curiosity about what the law says, there are many places where you can find educational materials, and  every tenant should become familiar with the legal protections for tenants in California law.

Many times the answer to tenants’ legal questions are more complicated than they may first appear.  It’s important to be careful, and not to rely upon every piece of information posted online, or simply accept the advice of friends and neighbors.  Make sure the source of your legal advice is reliable and up to date.

Look around the website and see if we have information to help you.  If you have a question and you can’t find an answer,  click here to send us a comment.  An attorney that specializes in advocating for tenants will reply, and can direct you to the resources you need. 

Don't go to Trial unprepared

Written notices demanding the payment of rent, notices that threaten the termination of your lease, accusations of illegal activity, and notices of changes in terms and conditions of a lease from a landlord or property manager are often the prelude to legal action.  They must be taken seriously.  It is critical for tenants to respond to notice from a landlord intelligently and prudently.

Before you agree to excessive rent increases, or allow the oppressive actions of the owner or management intimidate you, meet with a professional.

Information, early in time, is the key to success.  Often times becoming informed can help you to avoid being on defense.  If you are not able to avoid litigation, then consult with an attorney who stands with tenants and defends their rights.

Don't Waste Time

When a tenant has a legal conflict with the landlord, there is often only a short period of time to act.  Under California law, landlords are usually required to give notice to tenants before they resort to legal action. However, most of these legally required notices give a tenant only three days to act.  When a tenant fails to act within the three days then the landlord can proceed to court.

Once an action to evict (also called unlawful detainer) is filed against a tenant in court, it can move very quickly.   Landlords enjoy a unique legal procedure, which is known as a summary proceeding.   Once a tenant is sued in court, and then served with an unlawful detainer summons, then he or she has only five days to respond.

If your landlord has sued you or is threatening to sue you, then you must act quickly. Hesitation and uncertainty can lead to a loss of money, loss of security and the loss of your home. Don’t wait.  Schedule an appointment for a consultation  immediately to discuss your case.