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What’s a retaliatory eviction?

Retaliatory evictions occur when a landlord aims to evict a tenant because the landlord is angry over something the tenant was within his or her rights to do. Retaliatory evictions are illegal — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your landlord won’t try it anyhow if he or she is determined to oust you from your spot.

Most of the time, “troublesome tenants” are the ones targeted for retaliation. You may have provoked your landlord’s ire by doing something like:

  • Exercising your exclusive use rights in your lease in a way that limits the landlord’s goals
  • Organizing the other tenants into a union or joining an existing union against the landlord’s wishes
  • Asking the landlord (maybe repeatedly) to make repairs that he or she is obligated to make
  • Filing a complaint with a government entity over building code violations or other issues
  • Putting your rent in escrow and withholding payment until the landlord makes necessary repairs

Some landlords will blatantly retaliate by trying to evict you — while others will take a more subtle route. Your landlord may try to force you out of the property through another means, like:

  • Refusing to renew your lease, even though you’ve been a long-term tenant and built a significant business where you are
  • Raising your rent unreasonably high in hopes that you’ll quit the property
  • Harassing (or threatening) you, your employees or your customers in order to disrupt your business and drive you away

The odds are high that you know if your landlord is retaliating against you for some reason — and it’s never ok. Find out how you can protect your legal rights and preserve your livelihood.