Many landlords have been struggling to figure out how to deal with tenants who cannot, or will not, pay their rent. While most landlords remain firmly on the side of the law, some will resort to illegal acts to force out their tenants, in what is known as a constructive eviction. Here are seven signs that you may have become a victim of a constructive eviction:
- Broken things do not get fixed
- One of the primary duties of landlords is to ensure the space they are renting is in good repair. This means that utilities like water, electricity and heat must be functional, and dangerous conditions like broken floorboards or exposed wiring should be repaired. When they are not, it can create conditions that result in a constructive eviction.
- Insufficient safety measures
- Along the same lines as keeping things in good repair, landlords are also supposed to be aware of potential safety threats and take steps to prevent those dangers from affecting their tenants. This may mean putting up security cameras, hiring security guards, or putting bars over windows, as appropriate. When landlords do not take their tenants’ safety seriously, it can indicate a constructive eviction.
- Infestations are not addressed
- Cockroaches and mice may not seem as serious a threat as burglars or a lack of heat in the winter. However, it is just as much a responsibility of landlords to get rid of infestations of vermin like roaches, rats, termites, bed bugs, and the like. When a landlord refuses to get rid of these unwanted guests, it could be a sign of a constructive eviction.
- You get constant harassing messages
- A constructive eviction does not always have to be so passive-aggressive as simply refusing to do what a landlord is supposed to do. A landlord can also harass you with constant messages, perhaps multiple times a day or at odd hours. Even if these messages are not threatening in tone, the constant barrage of messaging can become a form of harassment, and potentially constitute constructive eviction.
- Utilities get turned off
- So long as you are in an apartment, even if you are not paying your rent, your utilities are supposed to stay on. Sometimes, though, a landlord will shut off power, water, heat, or other utilities to make your life more uncomfortable and try to force you out. This is almost always illegal, and may constitute a form of constructive eviction.
- Your lock gets changed while you are out
- Another way a landlord may try to force you out is by changing your lock while you are not in your apartment. Aside from being a loud-and-clear message that you are no longer welcome in your apartment, this is a form of harassment that is completely illegal. If it happens, you have likely become the victim of a constructive eviction.
- You are threatened or harmed
- Finally, a landlord may simply drop the pretenses of civility and simply threaten you with harm, or actually commit harm against you or your property. Aside from being a potential criminal offense, it is also a clear violation of landlord-tenant law. If this happens to you, you almost certainly have a case for a constructive eviction.
If you have questions regarding your rights as a landlord or tenant, you should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling these matters. A New York landlord-tenant lawyer, who is experienced in handling landlord-tenant cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you are facing a dispute over unpaid rent, lease violations, or other similar issues, contact the Suffolk County landlord-tenant attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.