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What is a Retaliatory Eviction?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A retaliatory eviction is an eviction that takes place as a result of the landlord’s disapproval of the tenant engaging in actions not prohibited by the rental agreement. For example, the eviction may occur in response to the tenant reporting health violations to a local agency after reporting them to the landlord did not result in some type of corrective action. In many places around the world, evicting a tenant for activities of this type is illegal, and may open the landlord to the possibility of legal action by the former tenant or local authorities.

It is important to note that with retaliatory eviction, the events leading to the order to vacate the premises will not include activities that are specifically prohibited in the terms of the lease agreement. For example, if the lease states that pets are not allowed, and the tenant chooses to keep a pet in the rental home, the landlord does have legal grounds to require that the tenant move. This is because the tenant is in breach of the lease agreement, and not because the landlord is attempting to retaliate.

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In order for the eviction to be considered retaliatory, the purpose for the request to vacate must be based on actions taken by the tenant that are not prohibited in terms of the rental agreement. Should a tenant choose to organize or participate in a tenant’s association, this would normally not be considered a legitimate reason to evict the tenant. Reporting a landlord to local authorities when repeated requests for improved sanitary conditions or repair of faulty wiring that is not up to local codes is ignored would also not be considered grounds for eviction. Should a landlord engage in retaliatory eviction under these circumstances, he or she would likely lose all claim to the tenant’s deposit, and may also be ordered to pay additional fines to local authorities. In some cases, the landlord may be ordered to provide additional compensation to the displaced tenant in order to offset moving expenses.

It is important to note that not all areas have laws that protect tenants from the possibility of retaliatory eviction. When this is the case, lease agreements are often crafted to include provisions that grant landlords broad powers when it comes to determining if a specific course of action is worthy of eviction. While local laws may not prevent retaliatory eviction, there is some chance that a least a few laws exist that provide the tenant with a window of time after the eviction notice is served to voluntarily remove from the dwelling, and secure a new place to live. For this reason, tenants should always read the terms and conditions contained in the lease agreement before committing to the lease and taking possession of the living space.

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