Explanation of Retaliatory Eviction
As a landlord, you have certain obligations to keep a property in a livable condition. If a tenant has reported unsanitary conditions that are not of their own doing, such as a septic tank failure from a lack of maintenance, then many jurisdictions require that you resolve that issue in 24 hours. If you do not and take an eviction action towards the tenant because of their report, this would classify as a retaliatory eviction.
You Cannot Evict Tenants Because They Report Violations
The lease that you sign with a tenant is a contract for both parties. The tenants agree to certain responsibilities, but so do landlords. Tenants have certain rights that they can exercise, such as hiring a building inspector to look at an apartment building. Landlord are forbidden by lawn to evict tenants for exercising this right. Evictions can only occur if the tenant has failed to live up to their obligations on the lease that has been signed. If a retaliatory eviction is attempted, the tenant can claim retaliation as a substantive defense when the case goes to court. Retaliatory eviction even covers such actions as canceling a month-to-month lease arrangement, locking common room doors, or increasing the rent to drive a tenant off of the property. Anything that is done to negatively impact the lives of a tenant because of legal actions they have taken will qualify as retaliation in most jurisdictions.
What Can Be Done?
As a landlord, your best case scenario is to respond promptly to 24 hour maintenance issues. Take care of your property so there is no need for tenants to feel like there is an unhealthy environment or that their home is structurally unsound. Tenants who feel like they've been retaliated against often have the right to file a lawsuit to protect their rights. That can be very costly to a property owner and landlords may even be liable for the legal fees of the tenant. Most importantly, know what your local landlord-tenant law says. There are times you can respond to a tenant's actions with an eviction notice, but that is jurisdiction dependent. If you can avoid a retaliatory eviction and proceed only on just cause, then you will be able to better maintain your profit margins.
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