Five Ways Landlords Illegally Harass Their Tenants

Tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment, which means they are legally allowed to remain in their rented spaces without fear of harassment or intrusion until they have been formally evicted. However, that does not stop some landlords from trying to harass their tenants out of their apartments, hoping to avoid the legal problems of seeking an eviction by forcing them to leave of their own accord. Here are five ways landlords may illegally harass their tenants into leaving their apartments:

  1. Refusing to repair broken utilities or facilities
    • One way that some landlords will try to convince tenants to leave their apartments is by refusing to repair things that have broken in the apartment. Even after being contacted by a tenant multiple times, they will not fix broken refrigerators, water heaters, or toilets, or they may allow lights to remain burnt out and broken floorboards to remain without being repaired. In extreme circumstances, a landlord may even turn off utilities themselves to try to chase tenants out.
  2. Failing to address infestations
    • Another way landlords try to harass their tenants into leaving is by refusing to deal with infestations on their property. Termites, bedbugs, mice, rats, cockroaches, and other unwanted “guests” can make it nearly impossible to live in an apartment. This can also lead to a tenant fleeing a property, as tenants escape an infested apartment for their own safety and sanity.
  3. Persistently calling or messaging tenants
    • Rather than making an apartment unlivable, a landlord may attempt to harass a tenant by contacting them about unpaid rent. While occasional phone calls or emails about unpaid rent are normal, some landlords will call or email a tenant multiple times a day, or even deliberately contact them late at night to disrupt their sleep. This can quickly make a living situation untenable as a landlord refuses to leave their tenant alone, and a tenant may leave just so they stop getting bothered by their landlord.
  4. Locking tenants out of their own apartments
    • Another tactic some landlords will engage in is to lock tenants out of their own apartments. They will have a locksmith visit while the landlord knows the tenant is out, without telling the tenant beforehand, and create a panic when the tenant can no longer enter their own apartment. This illegal tactic has one very clear message: the landlord no longer considers the tenant welcome and wants them gone.
  5. Threats of violence or destruction of property
    • Finally, some landlords will dispense with all subtlety and simply threaten their tenants with violence or destruction of property. No matter how much a tenant owes, it does not justify these illegal threats. If your landlord has done any of these actions, it may be best to speak to a New York landlord-tenant attorney who can advise you on your next course of action.

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.

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