Even if you’ve never rented a home before, you probably know that tensions between tenants and landlords arise from your friends or television. This fact of life is an unfortunate one that remains a prevalent issue. While it’s fine for people to disagree or not like one another, these landlord-tenant relationships can often turn hostile.
In many cases, landlords may attempt to harass and intimidate their renters as a form of retaliation. Knowing what constitutes as harassment is vital for every tenant, allowing you take legal action when necessary. Here’s what you need to know.
Harassment at work or in public is often easy to identify, but the definition changes slightly when you’re renting. A stranger trying to enter your apartment is a lot different than your landlord checking on the place or performing maintenance, says Keller Law Offices.
If your landlord attempts to pressure or intimidate you, however, that’s harassment. The individual could try to disrupt you enjoying your home, attempt to force you to move out, or bully you into not taking legal action. These actions must be ongoing as opposed to isolated and can also include any guests you have.
Identifying Harassing Behavior
When you’re locked in a landlord-tenant dispute, it’s vital that you know what actions constitute harassment. Keep in mind that the following behaviors alone may not constitute harassment on their own, but could violate other regulations and laws. In some cases, prior notice for these actions and with just cause makes them legal.
- Illegal entry or entry without prior notice
- Shutting off utilities including heat, sewer, and water
- Cutting included amenities out of the lease
- Refusing repairs and maintenance
- Changing the locks without a court order
- Removing your possessions
- Raising rent without prior notice
- Giving improper notices under local law or ordinance
- Repeated attempts to buy a renter out of their apartment
- Verbal threats
- Physical threats
- Refusing to accept payment
- Filing false charges or fake evictions against the tenant
- Construction of the site for the sole purpose of annoying a tenant
- Sexual harassment
Each of these actions can be expanded upon and some can be legal in some cases when carried out properly. If you’re unsure whether or not your landlord is harassing you, then it is highly advisable that you speak with a lawyer.
Many victims of these crimes speak varying languages and come from different ethnic backgrounds. If you or someone you know is the victim of harassment that may be race-related, especially if physical threats have been made, finding a bilingual personal injury attorney is vital.
What Doesn’t Count as Harassment?
There are a number of things your landlord can do that will not count as harassment in a court of law. Entering your apartment without prior notice in an emergency is 100% acceptable. A fire in the building would give the landlord just cause. Other cases include:
- Filing an eviction for failure to pay rent
- Raising prices with proper notice
- Notices to quit violating your lease agreement
- Shutting off utilities if you have not paid them
- Sending a buyout request through the proper legal channels
- Changing the locks for victims of domestic violence