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Illegal Things Your Landlord Can Do and What to do About It

Landlords often get a bad rap, especially when it comes to treatment of tenants. Some simply don’t care about their rental units, others don’t care about their tenants. But there’s a difference between landlords making tenants’ lives difficult and doing things that are downright illegal. If your landlord does any of these things, it’s time to stand up for the rights you deserve. While there are a number of illegal activities that landlords can engage in, these are some of the most commonly practiced illegal activities:

  1. Your landlord is withholding your security deposit

First, make sure that when you’re getting ready to move out, your apartment looks the same as when you moved in, with no damage. Otherwise, the landlord can withhold the amount needed for repairs. Make sure you know the terms of your lease, including how, when and in what situation your deposit will and will not be returned. The best way to ensure your landlord is acting within the legal lines, is the take photos of your rental unit before you move in and then again when you move out. That way, if your landlord tries to withhold your security deposit claiming you damaged the unit, you can provide proof to fight it.

     2. Your landlord walks into your apartment unannounced

Tenant privacy laws differ based on your state, so make sure to read your individual state’s rules. If your landlord enters your apartment unannounced, the first step to take is to issue a warning to your landlord. Explain to him that your privacy has been violated and if it happens again you’ll take the necessary legal actions to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If it does happen again, make sure you are within in your legal rights to take action, again, based on your state’s laws.

     3. Your landlord is forcing you out of your apartment

You may have to fight this one out in court, but know that a landlord can never legally evict you for no reason or threaten your rights to your home. A landlord has every right to sell the property, but unless you receive proper notice or your lease has an early-termination clause, you maintain your rights to your home.

      4. Your landlord is retaliating against you for something you might have done

If you file a complaint against your landlord, it is illegal for them to take retaliatory action against you. Retaliation, in this case, refers to any act of revenge that occurs within 90 days of your complaint being filed. Retaliation can take the form of anything, including but not limited to rent increase, reducing services and eviction.

       5. Your landlord shuts off your utilities

A landlord can never leave bills unpaid, which would result in utilities being shut off for tenants. If this happens, you should call your local code enforcement agency, because having no water, heat or electricity could be a major code violation.

6. Your landlord is overcharging you on rent in a rent-stabilized apartment

We’ve discussed this here but rent overcharge involves a situation where you are paying market-rate rent on an apartment unit that should be rent stabilized. In essence, you are paying more for your monthly rent than you are entitled to pay under New York law. When it comes to living in a rent stabilized apartment, landlords can only charge you the correct amount. “The proper rent amount is either the “legal rent stabilized rent” or the rent in your lease, whatever is lower.” Simply raising a tenant’s rent and not letting the tenant know that the unit is actually rent stabilized is illegal and the tenant can take legal action and sue his or her landlord for the difference in amount owed.

At Lease Buyout Advisors, we fight for tenant rights, and want to ensure that all tenants are treated right by their landlords. We can help you navigate legal processes if you feel you are being taken advantage of by your landlord. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to send us a message here or give us a call at 212-655-9851.