Is Your Landlord Guilty Of Harassment?
Homeowners sometimes take illegal actions like harassment.
These actions may involve a form of harassment on their renters.
Here are some important tips for tenants to know if their landlords are guilty of harassment.
Landlord harassment occurs when a landlord tries to use aggressive methods to intimidate or force their tenants.
The harassment could lead to forceful eviction of the tenant, disruption of the peace of the rental apartment or intimidate the renter from seeking legal actions.
Landlord harassment must be a continuous action targeted at the tenant or their visitor.
Three possible reasons for landlord harassment
Although landlord harassment happens for some many illegitimate reasons, three of them are common.
To force Rent-controlled renter out of the unit
Rent-controlled tenants normally pay rent that is below the current market rent.
Therefore, property owners usually try to force them out of the unit.
To pay all necessary utilities and still make profits, landlords are always finding tenants who can pay at the current market rent.
So, they will attempt to evict the tenants that are paying below the market rent.
Dislike for a particular class of tenant
Sometimes, homeowners may not just like a particular class of people living within their rentals.
This could people from a particular social class, religion, gender, nationality, disability or just having pets or kids.
Resultantly, if there is a household with such people in the property, the landlord may harass them.
Tenants who complain too often
If a landlord feels a tenant is too troublesome or complains too often, landlord harassment may occur.
However, good communication lessons can help avert this problem.
Landlord actions that are considered as landlord harassment
Getting into the apartment without notice
According to the landlord-tenant laws in most states, a landlord must get permission from the tenant before entering the renter’s unit.
The only exceptions are emergency situations.
Violation of this law could be regarded as a form of landlord harassment.
Shutting off utilities
Tenants have the right to an implied warranty of habitability.
In other words, it is their right to reside in a safe residence with basic amenities, like heat and running water.
These utilities offer advantages for tenants to ensure their safety.
Not providing amenities that were part of the lease term
Some landlords may decide to stop providing the amenities agreed in the lease contract.
This may be shutting off laundry services or any other issues.
Refusal of maintenance or repairs
A landlord may try to make the unit unliveable for the tenant by refusing to maintain the home or make repairs.
This could be an attempt to intimidate the renter to move out.
Changing the locks to the unit
A landlord may attempt to lock out the tenant.
This may be by changing the locks of the main entry doors or other common area entrance.
This harassment is targeted at forcing the tenant out of the unit.
Packing out the belongings of the tenant
Some landlord could take the bold step of removing the belongings of the renter from the unit.
This form of intimidation will make the unit uncomfortable for the tenant.
According to the laws of most states, the landlord must send a 30 days’ notice to their renter before increasing the rent.
So, any attempt to increase rent without enough notice could be harassment.
Whether for eviction, entry or other reasons, the notice that the landlord will give the tenant must meet certain requirements.
For instance, a landlord may need to notify the renter at least 24 hours before accessing the unit or showing it to a prospective renter.
Therefore, if the notice does not meet this requirement, the action could be regarded as landlord harassment.
This is an attempt that the landlord makes to offer money to the renter to leave the apartment by a particular date.
Although buyout could be of tremendous advantages for the landlord, it could still be considered as harassment.
Verbal intimidation of the renter
It is also possible for the landlord to use threatening words to intimate the renter.
It could be done in person, as text, emails or letters, or via a phone call.
Other possible forms of landlord harassment include physical harassment, sexual harassment, filing false charges against the tenant, filing false eviction notice against the renter, refusal to accept rent, and construction-related disturbances.
Landlord actions that are not regarded as landlord harassment
Accessing the unit without notice in an emergency
In case of an emergency, it is not necessary for a landlord to send a notice before entering the unit of the renter.
For instance, the property owner may enter the unit if there is a fire emergency so as to ensure everyone is safe.
Filing eviction due to non-payment of rent
If a tenant does not pay their rent, the landlord has the right to file to evict the renter.
However, before filing to evict, the landlord has to send a Quit Notice or Notice to Pay Rent.
Increasing the rent after sending proper notice
Provided proper notice has been sent, a tenant can increase the rent.
The landlord-tenant laws in most states require the landlord to send the notice at least 30 days before the increase.
Sending Quit Notice due to a breach of the lease agreement
Following a breach of lease agreement, the landlord can send the renter a notice to stop the violation.
In some cases, the property owner may need to send multiple notices before evicting the tenant.
Other landlord actions that are not regarded as landlord harassment include tenant not paying a utility bill, changing locks on behalf of victims of domestic violence, and sending a buyout request to the renter.
Solutions to landlord harassment
In case a renter is facing any forms of landlord harassment, they should do the following:
Keep a record of the event
Foremost, the tenant should keep a record of the alleged incidents.
This record should include the type, date, and time of the harassment.
They should also secure all evidence such as video, images, text message, voicemail, and so on.
A renter can go to their local government to file a complaint about landlord harassment.
The role of the agency is to investigate the case and verify the claim.
File a restraining order
If the claim is proven, a renter can obtain a restraining order that prevents the landlord from harassing the tenant.
A restraining order is usually offering if the tenant desires moving out of the unit within a short period.
Obtain an injunctive order to end the act
The court may provide an injunctive order so that the landlord can stop harassing the tenant.
File a lawsuit against the landlord
If the tenant wishes, he/she can file a lawsuit against the landlord.
Therefore, the renter may get damages for the landlord harassment.
Are you dealing with any form of landlord harassment?
Let our experienced professionals at Reneza help you find a lasting solution to your landlord-tenant problems.