The relationship between a landlord and a tenant can be a difficult one. As a landlord, you try to treat your tenant with respect and takes care of their needs in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, disputes can arise and lead to tenuous situations between landlords and tenants. When this happens, it's important to tread carefully lest you find yourself accused of retaliatory behavior.
If a tenant comes to you with a legitimate complaint, there are several actions you want to avoid:
- Threatening the tenant with eviction or filing for an eviction.
- Raising the tenant's rent.
- Refusing to perform the services they've requested.
- Refusing to renew their lease.
In order to prove that you acted in a retaliatory fashion, the tenant will need to offer proof that they made an effort to bring the problem to your attention. For example, a tenant is within their legal rights to come to you with an issue with the water heater. If you respond by threatening to evict them or upping their rent to pay for a new water heater, the courts may see this as retaliatory.
Of course, this is if the tenant is acting within the legal rights set by the state. If the tenant files a claim that they were retaliated against and you believe you acted properly, you have a right to protect yourself from such claims. After all, your reputation as a landlord is incredibly important.
To learn more about how to defend yourself against accusations of retaliatory behavior, you may want to consult with a landlord-tenant attorney.