Can my Claim Against my Landlord Get me Evicted?
Any personal injury lawyer will tell you that you’re more likely to end up engaged in a lawsuit with an entity you interact with on a regular basis. Regular business contacts are more likely to end up in contract disputes, and companies you deal with often are more likely to do something to hurt you. With this in mind, many people worry that if they need to file a lawsuit against their landlord, they might end up out on the street. It’s a legitimate concern that can sometimes keep people from filing otherwise valid claims. Will you be evicted? According to the law, you’ll stay, but there are real-life considerations that must be taken into account.
The law against retaliation
The tenant’s rights movement has made significant progress in growing the body of rights you have in situations of this nature. One of the legislative wins has come in the area of retaliation. The law notes that a landlord cannot file an eviction action against you in the 180 days after you’ve filed a lawsuit against him. If your lawsuit is legitimately filed for damage caused to you by the landlord, the landlord would be barred from seeking to evict you on that basis. His retaliation could lead to an additional claim on your part.
Eviction for non-payment of rent
The landlord can seek to evict you for non-payment of rent, even if you’ve just filed a lawsuit against him for damages. This is why it is critical for tenants not to withhold rent in a dispute against a landlord. The landlord can come after you to repossess the property without facing any sanction for retaliation as long as he does so for the legitimate failure on your part to pay rent. Many tenants misunderstand this rule, thinking that they are safe from eviction in the wake of a lawsuit. Staying on top of rent payments is paramount, even if you have a legitimate claim against a bad landlord.
The practical implications of filing a lawsuit
If you have a legitimate claim against your landlord, then you have a right to bring it. There are some practical implications to keep in mind when you file that lawsuit. You will be straining the relationship with the landlord, which might cause the landlord to seek revenge. Even though the law is supposed to prevent landlords from filing for eviction in the wake of your lawsuit, many will still make this move in an attempt to make your life uncomfortable. It’s important to be vigilant in protecting your rights in that scenario.
Many landlords will threaten you with higher rent prices and with fines that are written into the contract. Likewise, you may lose the flexibility that you had with regard to certain rules in your landlord-tenant contract. Those who might file a lawsuit against their landlord should ensure that they are in full compliance with the terms of their lease agreement. Picking a fight with a landlord can end up in a mess for those tenants that do not have their ducks in a row.
Consulting a lawyer for complex situations
Landlord-tenant law is one of the most complex and malleable areas of the law. Every situation has a slightly different dynamic in play. Those who want to protect themselves should always speak to a lawyer about their specific situation. While the law should protect you from retaliation from your landlord, you might also need the help of a lawyer to ensure that your rights are fully protected in that situation. Those who simply rely on the law to work in their favor could end up in a difficult situation if they are dealing with an especially vindictive landlord.
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