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Seniors who are on fixed incomes are increasingly having trouble keeping pace with the rising bay area rents. While there are legal protections in place, these are often not enough to keep our seniors housed. According to Cal Matters, as of 2021, California accounts for about a third of the nation’s homeless people, and among this population, seniors are estimated to be the fastest-growing group.

Whether it is an annual rent increase that exceeds their income or a lease term they inadvertently violated, Contra Costa County seniors are increasingly having to maneuver the world of evictions. Knowing the rules as well as the responsibilities and protections is key to ensuring that seniors can get through, what can be a terrifying time.

The following are some of the most common scenarios that a senior m

ay face with respect to remaining housed.

  • I am a senior who received a large rent increase. Is this legal?

Tenants who are living in properties that are subject to the Tenant Protection Act are protected from receiving a rent increase of more than 5% + the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 10%, whichever is lower.

Tenants who are living in subsidized or low-income properties are limited to rent increases that are in compliance with their agreements. Those living in Section 8 properties can receive rent increases that keep their rent at roughly 30% of their income.

Tenants who may receive rent increases over 10% are entitled to 90 days-notice before the increase goes into effect.

  • I am a disabled senior who is being evicted for having a service dog.

Tenants with physical or mental disabilities who have a doctor prescribed service or companion dog due to a disability have the right to ask for a reasonable accommodation of the landlord’s rule that animals are not allowed.

A reasonable accommodation is when a tenant with a disability asks the landlord to make a change to the landlord’s rules, policies, or practices to allow the disabled tenant equal opportunity to use and enjoy the rental unit. A landlord may be required to provide a tenant a reasonable accommodation to keep their service animal under state and federal law.


  • I am a senior being evicted because the abuse I am experiencing is disturbing other tenants.

Tenants who are victims of abuse are protected under California law from being evicted based on an act against them of domestic violence or elder abuse.

Otherwise, a landlord may be able to evict a tenant for the noise complaints, fighting, or calls to the police, even if these were related to violence against you.


  • I am a senior who is receiving a lot of notices from my landlord that I don’t understand.

Tenants should contact CCSLS if they have received notices from their landlord. Most require a timely review and response.


  • I am a senior who received two sets of court documents that I do not understand.

For a landlord to evict you they must first file a court case against you.  In California an eviction lawsuit is called an “unlawful detainer.”

After you receive an unlawful detainer summons and complaint, you have 5 court days to file an “answer” at court. If you don’t file an “answer” by day 5, the landlord can request the court enter a “default judgment.” This means the landlord automatically wins the case and you must give up possession of the property.


  • I am a senior whose landlord wants to evict me and has locked me out of my home.

It is illegal for a landlord to lockout a tenant (renter) from their home to force a tenant to leave.

When a landlord wants to evict a tenant, the landlord must go through the court eviction process. A tenant can stay in the home until the end of the court eviction process.


  • I am a senior who needs my security deposit so I can rent another home.


Tenants are entitled to the return of their full security deposit within 21 days after they move out if they move out with the rent fully paid and do not cause damage to the rental unit during the tenancy.

If the landlord does not return the security deposit, the tenant can sue them in small claims court where they can be awarded not only the security deposit but also 2.5 times the deposit in damages.