Posted in Blog  
  on Jun 02, 2015

What Are Landlord Harassment Laws?

There are certain actions a landlord can take against a tenant in order to enforce a lease. There are other actions that are legally considered to be landlord harassment. In general terms, a tenant is allowed to enjoy the home that they are renting without too much interference. Tenants are also afforded certain rights even if they are out of compliance with their lease, including an intentional refusal to pay. Here are some of the common ways that landlord harassment laws can be used as a tenant defense during litigation.

1. Verbal Or Physical Threats Are Made.

“If you do not pay your rent, I'm going to kick you and your family out on the street.” Although that may be true to some extend, that's actually considered a threat in most jurisdictions and could be considered landlord harassment. Landlords are not allowed to make any threats whatsoever against a tenant. Doing so may give tenants the right to file for a restraining order.

2. Entering a Property Without Permission.

Landlords or their agents are not allowed to enter a rental property without giving some form of advanced notice is most jurisdictions. If there isn't an emergency, that notice may need to be 48-72 hours in advance. A sales showing may only require 24 hours notice. Emergency entry for necessary or repairs that were agreed upon are allowed. Even entries that occur when tenants are not at home are still considered harassment.

3. Shutting Off The Utilities.

Landlords are not allowed to block tenant access to public utilities. This includes power, water, heating, telephone service, or elevator access. Some states allow tenants to sue landlords for taking this action. This does not apply for nonpayment of utility services already used. It does apply when done as a means to evict or harass a tenant.

4. Changing The Locks.

As long as a tenant has a legal right to be on a rental property, they must be given access to that structure. Plugging locks, replacing the locks, or securing doors so they cannot be opened is considered a form of landlord harassment. If this happens, tenants in almost every jurisdiction have the right to break back into the property, even if damages occur, and to potentially sue.

5. Improper Eviction Notices.

If the landlord/tenant law allows for a 5 day notice on nonpayment of rent and a landlord only gives a 3 day notice, then this may be considered landlord harassment as well.

6. Retaliation.

Tenants are allowed to pursue their rights. That includes hot water, legal summons for potential harassment issues, and other actions that may even include withholding rent in some jurisdictions. Landlords are not allowed to retaliate against tenants who are pursuing their legal rights in any way. Retaliation may include terminating a lease, refusing to renew a lease, or increasing the rent.

 

7. Interference With a Tenant's Lifestyle.

Although this form of landlord harassment is more rare than the others, it can also be the most costly. This typically happens when a tenant is self-employed in some way or has small children or pets. Frequent notices of inspection or sales tours that interrupt someone during regular business hours from completing their job may qualify as harassment. Visits that occur frequently during a stated nap time for small children may also qualify. Creating noise disturbances through a tenant's pets intentionally may also be considered harassment. Interference that is agreed upon is automatically disqualified. Interference that has a written notice and requests to alter circumstances that are ignored could create the foundation of potentially expensive litigation. If a tenant earns $200 per day and they can provide 7 days of interference, that's $1,400 + fees potentially coming out of a landlord's pocket.

8. Making False Statements.

Some tenants don't leave a leasing arrangement on friendly terms. They might have left some furniture behind, not been able to afford a carpet cleaning service, or other move-out issues. A landlord who then tells others that the tenants are the worst renters they've ever known, publish false statements about their conduct, or attempt to use information to affect personal employment may also be guilty of harassment. Using stern language is one thing. Threatening to harm someone is completely different. Landlords who withhold maintenance, purposely target tenants, or conduct themselves in the ways above may be performing landlord harassment. Avoid these behaviors to limit liabilities and a rental agreement will have more profit potential.


Related

Most Important Landlord Tenant Laws in Texas

When it comes to having a tenant for the first time, it can be pretty daunting because you are going to be the corresponding landlord and a new relationship will emerge, which will need time to grow... More


The Landlord Tenant Board: What it is and When it is Needed

Many times, there are issues between a landlord and a tenant that need to be resolved but are failed to do so, because both parties have gone too far with their actions, and have retaliated in the... More


The Landlord Tenant Laws in California

The landlord and tenant laws in California are literally the same as they are in any other state. These laws, rules and regulations are put into practice because they uphold an order, a discipline,... More


Understanding the Landlord Tenant Laws in Illinois

People are aware that there are different rulings in each state with reference to the landlord/tenant laws. The state of Illinois also has a set of laws. These rules and regulations are basically... More


How to Create a Residential Lease Agreement

Where there is a landlord, there will also be a tenant, and it is no surprise that these two parties can only work together once there is some sort of agreement, contract or a binding deal in place.... More


The Best Sites for Rental and Lease Agreement Templates

Many landlords find it difficult to write and draft a lease agreement. Since every State has its own general template, it can also be difficult to make sure your lease agreement meets all the criteria... More


The Landlord Tenant Act: What Landlords Need to Know

All landlords know that before they can formally become a landlord there are a lot of things they need to understand. Landlords and tenants cannot act as such without any legal bodies involved. That... More


5 Landlord Forms that Every Landlord Should Have

When it comes to being a landlord, one should know that it is not for the unprepared individual. This should be clear that being a landlord does not simply mean that you will be taking the rent and... More


Landlord Obligations: The Responsibilities of a Landlord

Becoming a landlord is a major deal and no one can simply get up and think, “well, yes I think I should be a landlord and rent out my flat.” If you are thinking that you would like to be a landlord,... More


The Best Landlord Associations for Landlords to Join

If you’re a landlord and want to manage your business in a better way, you should endeavor to get in touch with those industry experts who have the experience and the skills to help you do it. This is... More