It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against you for exercising your tenant rights. For instance, you may have made a good faith complaint to your landlord or a government agency regarding health and safety violations, habitability issues or non-repair of your unit. Alternatively, you may have joined a tenants union to air your concerns collectively.
If the landlord shuts off utility services, locks you out of the premises, or intimidates and harasses you to force an eviction in response, it may amount to retaliation. Here is what you should do to protect your rights.
It is advisable to have a record of your interactions with the landlord that details the timeline of relevant events, such as the day you made the report and when their retaliatory acts began. Additionally, any correspondence with your landlord, such as repair requests, should be in writing to ensure you have copies of them. If you notice any adverse actions shortly after engaging in a protected activity, write to your landlord specifying the retaliatory acts and demand that they stop immediately.
Useful evidence consists of a neighbor’s testimony if they witnessed the landlord harassing you or a police report if law enforcement responded to a situation at the premises. Photos of the dwelling unit can also help refute some of the claims against you or prove specific facts.
Explore your legal options
You may have incurred moving costs, unexpected rent expenses or even suffered emotional distress due to your landlord’s retaliatory acts. If so, you can take legal action against them and recover damages. Learning more about your rights as a tenant and how to prove landlord retaliation will help you take the most appropriate action in view of the prevailing circumstances.