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What Is Landlord Harassment?

Landlord harassment includes failure to complete necessary repairs in a timely fashion.
Refusing to maintain a property is considered landlord harassment.
Landlord harassment may include abusive phone calls.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 16 December 2014
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Landlord harassment is the creation of hostile conditions on a rental property by a landlord, usually with the goal of forcing the tenant to leave. This activity is most commonly seen when a landlord does not want to go through the process of evicting a tenant, or faces legal barriers to eviction in a situation where there is no cause to eject a tenant. It is a crime, and tenants can receive assistance from police officers as well as tenants' rights organizations if they experience harassment from their landlords.

A number of activities can be part of landlord harassment. Refusing to maintain a property and doing things like shutting utilities off to make it unpleasant can be one component. Landlords may stop paying for garbage collection, for example, or cancel a maintenance service. Basic maintenance for safety is a legal obligation and a rental contract may also include specific clauses mandating aesthetic maintenance, such as hiring a gardening service to keep the grounds in good condition.

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Landlords can also threaten their tenants. Landlord harassment may include abusive and threatening letters, phone calls, Internet contacts, or personal conversations. Unauthorized entry can be another element of the situation. By law, landlords can only enter a property with notice or under an emergency situation. Frequent or illegal entry can be landlord harassment; for example, insisting on entrance every day without any actual need to do so can be intimidating in addition to annoying for tenants. The harassment may escalate into physical attacks on tenants or their property as well.

If people experience landlord harassment, they should keep detailed documentation. It is a good idea to apprise neighbors of the situation, and it can be helpful to ask them if they would be willing to serve as witnesses. Tenants should preserve any threatening or harassing communications, document damage and injuries with photos, and keep a log of interactions with the landlord. It is important to avoid contributing to an escalation of the behavior by remaining calm in interactions with the landlord.

Tenants can start with a firm request to stop, bringing the landlord's attentions to the terms of the rental agreement or lease or bringing up legal issues such as the right to 24 hours notice before non-emergency entry. If this is not effective, the tenant can contact police for assistance. It may also be helpful to request legal help from a community service organization. Sometimes, the best resolution to landlord harassment is to move, but it may be possible to find a home in a similar setting with comparable rent through community assistance.

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Discuss this Article

anon975489
Post 9

Most states have renter rights laws. Get a copy of it and keep record of activity. If they are in the apartment without notice, call the police because it is trespassing. Get social services involved if you're elderly. This alone will scare the crap out of landlords in the wrong.

anon951851
Post 8

My landlord has started to harass my wife and I frequently, after we've lived here for over three years. His worst threat came yesterday when he showed up without notice, walked into the apartment and made threats against my wife and I, claiming he is calling the health department and Adult Protective Services. He has made no attempt to contact us in writing about conditions of the house, nor has he said anything other than where is my rent in the three years we've been here. Although we may have to pay him twice a month, the rent does get paid and if he did not want us here, he could refuse to accept payments but does every month, and has taken a payment this month.

When he was here, he used vulgar language, had a hammer in his hand that he was wildly swinging around while yelling at us. We told him five times to please put down the hammer and it took the maintenance man to get the hammer from him. The maintenance man also had to advise the landlord he is not allowed in the bedrooms, since he wanted the bedroom door opened. He also has cut off the water to the bathtub, which is the only one in the house, preventing my wife from getting ready for work. I have contacted legal aid and am trying to get legal advice and help from a lawyer. Is there anything else I can do to help myself to protect myself from this verbally abusive man?

anon949700
Post 7

My mom has lived in her apartment for 10 years with no agreement. She always pays her rent. Now an illegal took over management and only wants Hispanic people living there. There was a note on her door to move out. She is 83 and has moderate Alzheimer's, but can't live alone. The neighbors have slashed her car tires and stolen all of her belongings in her storage. She can't afford to move or move into a facility.

anon947124
Post 6

The landowner where I'm currently staying is horrid. How does one sue a landlord for harassment. He enters my home without notice daily, and has an abusive-mouthed son.

I live with my elderly godfather, and this place is crappy. No repairs were done in 20 years. If I didn't push for some changes, there would still be a metal cabinet in the hall like there was 12 years ago!

anon943949
Post 5

My landlord left all her belongings in my garage. The lease says I'm renting the home, but she has just opened the door two times and let herself in. She wants to come without a 24 hour written notice to get her clothes from garage. She refuses to get her stuff out and parks outside for hours watching the house.

I have asked her to get things out of garage, but she wants to charge me 150 dollars more rent to use the garage, which has been made into an extra bedroom. She makes harassing remarks to my daughter about her not working and having two kids at the age of 22 (my daughter is disabled). She goes to my job and makes harassing remarks, and she tells me she can go sleep in their whenever she wants and only meant for me to be a roommate.

anon930360
Post 4

Our landlord is harassing us and telling us our apartment smells like cat and dog pee and I pay my rent on time. They shut off the water without giving us any notice and they are putting notices on the door that they have to do a walk through to see if our apartment is clean. Our apartment is clean and does not smell like dog or cat pee. Our air-conditioner went out on a Thursday and they couldn't fix it till Monday. Our front door needs to be fixed and it's not fixed yet.

anon336935
Post 3

Sometimes it's not easy for a tenant to move. That's what the landlord wants for whatever reason and this costs a lot of money.

I am changing "landlord" to "landowner" because "lord" is too strong a word to give to someone who tries to make the lives of tenants hell just for power.

Many tenants are elderly and on fixed incomes, or are people with disabilities who do not have the luxury to move to get away from harassing, intimidating landowners.

The vulnerable are the ones mostly singled out and harassed by landowners who are rarely held accountable or responsible for the suffering they cause tenants, they think they are above the law and can do what they want just because of their status, this is wrong and appalling behavior, and it needs to be stopped, not overlooked.

anon296226
Post 1

It's sad how I'm being harassed by my landlord. He's done about five or six of the things on the list in the article to me, and the housing court judge from the Bronx said it's not harassment.

I have letters from him, and one even says his phone tells him when I'm not home. Tell me what that is! And there's no heat in the winter!

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