Maintaining a healthy and friendly relationship between landlords and tenants takes a lot of effort. There are times, though, when even the most accommodating people rub each other the wrong way.
As a tenant, you’re entitled to certain rights that are meant to protect you from retaliatory behavior. If you believe that you’re being harassed by your landlord, you can take action.
What is Landlord Harassment?
People often rent apartments, land, and other facilities because they want to put them to good use. Whether you’re making a home for yourself or pursuing other interests, these spaces should ideally become a reflection of your goals.
Landlords that harass their tenants actively make their rented units unlivable. These parties can use different techniques — verbal harassment, emotional manipulation, and even the physical desecration of your space — to encourage you to break your lease or otherwise leave the unit.
Some of the most common forms of landlord harassment include:
- Entering your apartment without permission or notice
- Withholding your amenities
- Ignoring your requests for maintenance
- Purposefully lowering your quality of life
- Illegally increasing your rent
- Denying your rent payment
- Evicting you without appropriate notice
- Sexually harassing you or your roommates
Landlords that engage in these behaviors do more than just make your life more difficult. They can cause long-term trauma.
How Do You Report Landlord Harassment?
You do not have to stand by while your landlord harasses you or your roommates. Instead, as long as it’s clear that your landlord has violated the law, you are entitled to take legal action.
If you want to respond to what you believe to be inappropriate behavior, it’s in your best interest to:
When you’re facing harassment from your landlord, documentation is your best friend. Report every incident of harassment that you and your roommates have to endure. If possible, accompany these notes with video or audio evidence of the harassment in question.
The more evidence you have on hand, the simpler it will be for you to pursue legal action.
Break Your Lease
If you believe that you and your roommates are actively in danger, consider pursuing methods to legally break your lease. In these situations, it’s best to look through your contract, highlight the relevant points, and work with your landlord and any other representatives you believe to have your best interests at heart.
With that being said, your landlord may try to financially manipulate you as you break your lease. Before you sign any agreements, make sure that you have them in writing and look them over with a professional to ensure that you’re not being taken advantage of.
Reach Out for Legal Guidance
At the end of the day, no one is going to help you address landlord harassment like a lawyer. An attorney can help you to legally define your situation and bring your concerns before a local court.
In court, you can argue that the landlord engaged in behaviors that caused you notable damage, whether they were economic or non-economic in nature. In turn, the court can choose to award you compensation based on your losses.
Courts can even bring punitive charges against landlords that have grossly violated their tenants’ rights. You cannot request that the court consider these charges in your initial complaint, but you can benefit financially if the court chooses to pursue them after reviewing the case.
The Consequences for Landlord Harassment
Landlords brought up on charges of tenant harassment can face consequences ranging from fines to jail time. The severity of a landlord’s consequences will vary based on the involved court, state-based tenancy laws, and charges filed.
For example, landlords that are accused of sexual harassment may face more significant consequences than those that illegally increase their tenants’ rent.
Reacting to Landlord Harassment: Your Next Steps
When you rent a property, you enter into an agreement with your landlord. This agreement holds both of you to certain legal expectations, but it also encourages accommodations that are cordial. Landlords that actively violate your rights can face consequences for making you feel unwelcome or afraid in your leased space.
If you or your loved ones are enduring landlord harassment, don’t wait for the situation to worsen. Explore your next steps today.