At times, tenant-landlord relationships get to the point where the tenant feels as if the landlord is trying to force him/her out of the rental. As a renter, the tenant should know that the landlord has duties and responsibilities, not only under the rental or lease agreement, but also under local and state statutes. If your landlord is harassing you to the point where you feel he/she is trying to get you to abandon the rental or break the rental and/or lease agreement, you have legal options.
We should back up for a moment and say that you should always try to keep the lines of communication open with your landlord. If there is a problem, you should be able to go and speak to your landlord about it. Things do not have to get acrimonious if you are able to communicate. Oftentimes, it is a lack of communication that gets things to the point where one, the other, or both want to break the agreement but cannot figure out how.
If things should get to the point where there is actual harassment, then go and carefully review the conditions of your tenancy in the lease or rental agreement. There should be something in the agreement that says what the landlord's duties and responsibilities are. If you cannot find these clauses, you can always visit the public library and do some research on local and state law regarding landlords, tenants, rentals and leases. You should be able to find a wealth of relevant and applicable information. You can even find a helpful librarian who is willing to point you in the right direction.
Your landlord cannot cut off your heating or electricity, remove doors, change locks or throw out your possessions. There are some strict laws which govern what a landlord must do before he/she can touch your personal belongings. Unless the criteria delineated in the law are specifically met, your landlord will be violating the law if he or she were to touch your personal belongings, change your locks or do anything else which could be taken as harassment.
On the other hand, landlord harassment could be very difficult to prove. You are going to need verifiable proof of what your landlord is doing. Make sure you document everything that you feel your landlord is doing to try to get rid of you. Once you have enough documentation, you can contact an attorney and see whether you have a case to take to court.
Before you decide on legal proceedings, you are going to have to ask yourself whether living in the rental unit is really worth it. If you have no other option, then you are going to have to go to court and you are going to need legal advice or representation. There are attorneys who specialize in this section of the civil code, so be sure to seek out a lawyer who is experienced in lease/rental contracts and/or agreements. After all, if you lose the court case, you do not want to get stuck paying your legal bills as well as your landlord's. If you looked at your agreement closely enough, you may have noticed the attorney's fees clause.
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