Attorney General Bonta Holds Bakersfield Landlords and Property Manager Accountable for Violating Tenant Protections

Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced a settlement with two separate local Bakersfield landlords and their property management company, Clemmer & Company, for multiple violations of the Tenant Protection Act (TPA) and for violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Co-authored by Attorney General Bonta during his time as a state assemblymember, the TPA was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019. It created significant new protections for most tenants, including limiting rent increases and prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants without just cause. As part of the settlement, the owners and property manager will collectively pay restitution and penalties totaling $213,000 and must comply with strong injunctive terms. 

“When it comes to protecting tenants and ensuring that all Californians have a place to call home, the California Department of Justice is all in. Today's settlement sends a strong message: The Tenant Protection Act is the law—and it must be followed by everyone, everywhere in California,” said Attorney General Bonta. “If you are interested in getting into the renting business, as a landlord or property manager, you are responsible for knowing and abiding by state and local laws and regulations. Property management companies are responsible for complying with the TPA and related laws, even when acting on the requests of landlords. California law also protects renters from discrimination based on their source of income, such as if they use a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. Keeping people housed is a top priority for my office and I am committed to enforcing violations of people’s rights to housing. Full stop.”

An investigation by California Department of Justice (DOJ) found that the two individual landlords, each of whom own over a hundred units, and property manager Clemmer & Company unlawfully issued eviction notices in violation of the TPA. One landlord issued over 40 eviction notices on the basis that the landlord intended to substantially remodel the units, but the remodeling work performed did not meet the standards required under the TPA to justify eviction. The other landlord issued at least two eviction notices targeting tenants with Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers on the same basis but performed no remodeling work. These two eviction notices violated the TPA and constituted unlawful discrimination against Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher recipients. The property manager facilitated many of these unlawful evictions. Separately, the second landlord also unlawfully increased rent for dozens of tenants, including by issuing multiple rent increases within a single year that combined to exceed the TPA’s 12-month rent cap, and failed to return security deposits within 21 days of move-out and to provide documentation of deductions as required under California’s security-deposit law.

The settlement terms include payments totaling $213,000, consisting of $93,000 in civil penalties and $120,000 in restitution to be paid to approximately 85 current and former tenants. This restitution will help affected families recover financially from rent hikes or displacement. The settlement also imposes strong injunctive terms, including the following:

  • Reset rental rates for current tenants who paid unlawful rent.
  • Comply with Senate Bill 567, which takes effect April 1 and strengthens the TPA’s eviction protections. Among other things, eviction notices based on substantial remodels must include a description of the work to be completed, copies of required permits, the date the owner expects to complete the work, and notification that if the substantial remodel is not commenced or completed, the tenant must be offered the opportunity to re-rent the unit at the same rent and lease terms as when the tenant left.
  • Provide annual reports to California DOJ with copies of all of substantial remodel eviction notices, with other required documentation varying by defendant. 
  • Clemmer & Company will provide annual trainings to all employees about landlord-tenant and fair housing laws 

Today’s settlement represents California DOJ’s third enforcement settlement under the TPA. To date, the TPA has been enforced against a large housing developer and property manager, a large landlord with statewide rental operations, and now, smaller, local landlords and a property management company.

In January, Attorney General Bonta announced a settlement with Invitation Homes to resolve allegations that the company violated the TPA and California’s price-gouging law by unlawfully increasing rents on approximately 1,900 homes. In June 2023, Attorney General Bonta announced a settlement against Green Valley Corporation, a San Jose-based housing developer and property manager to resolve allegations that the company violated the TPA by issuing unlawful rent increases to nearly 20 of its employee tenants and serving unlawful eviction notices to six of those employee tenants. Earlier this month, Attorney General Bonta issued five housing consumer alerts advising California tenants of their rights and protections under state law, and alerting property managers and landlords of their obligations to tenants. The Know Your Rights alert is available in 24 languages. The remaining four consumer alerts are available in English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. All of the alerts are available here.

 A copy of the complaints and proposed judgments for all three parties are available here: 1a, 1b, 2a2b, 3a3b




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