In United States real estate law, people who have been harassed by their landlord or any person working for their landlord in an effort to make the person abandon their rental contract, have legal rights of protection. Often, in areas of the country that offer rent control, property owners will harass their tenants into moving out so that the rent can be raised for the new tenant. While this is illegal and ethically wrong, it can be difficult to prove. In the event the landlord commits a crime while harassing their tenant, many regions will punish the landlord more severely.
Landlord harassment can take many forms. For instance, when a property owner refuses to repair the property, keep up with landscaping, or trash collection, this can be a means to irritate a tenant. If they continually reference improper behavior on the part of the tenant, mutilation of the property, or create a great deal of noise, these acts too can be harassment. While some of these mentioned methods of harassment might in fact be deliberate, it is harder to substantiate. It is vital to document any potential harassment in the event the situation escalates. Obvious harassment would be considered verbal or written threats of physical injury or financial harm, or even actual physical assault. In situations of this type, it is best to contact law enforcement officials immediately to substantiate your claim of harassment.
Under the Human Rights Act, tenants are guaranteed certain freedoms, such as the right to enjoy their own private life and possessions within the property. There are many pieces of legislation at the federal level of government to protect a tenant, and many local and state governments have their own layers of protection in force. In many instances, a property owner can become angry with a tenant if the tenant has been vocal about an issue or has complained to a government agency about living conditions. The landlord however, is not at liberty to retaliate in any fashion against the tenant. This means that not only can the property owner not evict the tenant; they also cannot raise their rent or make changes to the terms of the rental contract within six months of the tenant's complaint. In the event a tenant sues their property owner for harassment of a retaliatory type, the burden of proof is on the landlord to show they did not engage in any tactics of retaliation against the tenant. If the retaliatory activities took place after six months have passed from the date of complaint by the tenant, the burden of proof lays with the tenant.