How do I deal with a landlord who rented me an illegal apartment?

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How do I deal with a landlord who rented me an illegal apartment?

I have lived in my apartment for over a year. This month the city came to inspect due to

complaints. I found out that this is a commercial property. According to the inspectors I am not allowed to be here. They plan to move forward with this case and have me evicted. I cant afford to pay rent and move immediately. The landlord is upset because I am refusing to pay. He is trying to pursue eviction as a refusal to pay rent. I do not know what to do or where to start.

Asked on March 22, 2019 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You can be evicted--and in fact, must be: you are not allowed to live in an unit not approved for residence. Oddly enough, you also can be evicted for not paying rent, even for an illegal unit: there is simply no right to live in property owned by another without paying for the privilege, regardless of other legal issues.
However, you may be entitled to relocation expenses under either state or local (city/municipal law): it is not uncommon for landlords to be required to help relocate tenants in illegal units. Contact the Legal Services Corporation for your area (there are separate ones for Northern, Central, and Southern California); they have a housing/tenancy unit, and may be able to represent you for free or at least point you to information and resources you can use to represent yourself and get any compensation to which you are entitled.


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