Do you feel that your recent receipt of an eviction notice from your landlord is based solely on a desire for revenge? Are they proceeding illegally due to actions that you may have taken to try to get them to improve living conditions at your residence? If you feel that this is indeed the case, you have the right to fight against your impending eviction in court.
What is Landlord Retaliation?
Illegal retaliation is any action that the owner of a property may take against a tenant for reporting any sort of unfair or unsafe action to a higher authority, such as a court. If your landlord attempts to evict you after you have reported unsafe living conditions, such as faulty electrical wiring or an insect infestation, this kind of action is considered an illegal retaliation and can be reported to the court.
What Kind of Actions by Landlords Can Be Considered Retaliatory?
There are a number of actions, including illegal retaliatory evictions, that you can bring to the notice of a court if and when they occur. These actions may include, but will not be limited to, the following:
- Refusing to consider a renewal of your lease or rental agreement.
- Threatening to file a notice of eviction.
- Actually filing a notice of eviction.
- Raising your rent without prior notice, especially if this is contrary to the terms of your lease or rental agreement.
- Refusing to perform or provide basic maintenance services on your behalf.
Make Sure You Understand Your Rights Before Your File Your Claim
It's important for you to fully understand the rights you have in this matter before you file your claim. Different states will have very different laws when it comes to defining and proceeding against illegal retaliatory evictions on the part of property owners. Some states will allow you to make such a claim on a certain number of carefully defined and specified charges. However, other states will not normally be so quick to give you a hearing on any but the most specific and limited grounds.
What Kind of Actions on a Landlord's Part Can Be Considered Retaliatory?
There are a number of actions that a landlord can take against a tenant that may fall within the legal scope of illegal retaliatory evictions. Some of these actions may include, but will not be limited to, the following:
- Raising your rent without notice, especially to an extremely high level that they are counting on you not being able to pay.
- Terminating or refusing to renew your rental agreement or lease.
- Cancelling your cable access, draining the pool on the property, or other petty actions that are designed to harass you or restrict your use or enjoyment of the premises.
- Filing an eviction lawsuit against you if you decide to stay and fight against any of the above or other similar actions.
How Can You Prove That Your Landlord is Retaliating Against You?
There are certain actions on the part of a property owner that are regarded as illegal retaliation in almost every state. If you have repeatedly complained about unsafe or unsavory conditions or have finally brought these conditions to the notice of local authorities, a landlord cannot legally file to have you evicted.
If you have conducted repairs to your apartment and then deducted the cost of these renovations from your rent, this is an action for which a landlord cannot legally penalize. You also are protected in most states from any sort of retaliation that might follow from joining or organizing a tenants' union in response to the landlord repeatedly ignoring your requests for positive action on your grievances. If the response of the property owner to any of the above listed actions is to harass you or attempt to have you evicted, you can point to their response as constituting illegal retaliatory behavior.
How Difficult Will it Be to Prove Your Case against Your Landlord?
In many areas, the burden of proof will be on the landlord to prove that they were not retaliating against you by filing to have you evicted after you exercised any of the above listed rights. In nearly half of all states, the landlord will actually be presumed by the court to be illegally retaliating against you if they evict you within a six month window after you report wrongdoing to the authorities or exercise any of your other rights.
If they still wish to proceed with the eviction, they are certainly within their rights to do so. However, they will have to prove to the court that their action is based on some other reason that has nothing to do with retaliation against you for any of the above named reasons.