Residential Tenant Harassment

It is illegal for your landlord to force you to leave your apartment or give up your rights as a tenant. Such conduct may be considered unlawful harassment, which can include the following:

  • Refusing to offer you a lease or a lease renewal for rent-regulated tenants;
  • Locking you out illegally;
  • Sending you eviction notices when you are not in default under your lease;
  • Threats or intimidation, such as late-night telephone calls;
  • Overcharging you for a rent-regulated apartment;
  • Failing to provide you with necessary repairs or utilities, such as heat and hot water; or
  • Causing construction-related problems, such as blocking entrances, failing to remove debris and construction dust or working after hours.

In addition, if you are a rent-regulated tenant, it is also considered harassment if your landlord:

  • Repeatedly offers to buy you out of your lease;
  • Threatens or intimidates you in connection with a buyout;
  • Contacts you at work about a buyout without your permission;
  • Provides you with false information in connection with a buyout offer; or
  • Contacts you about a buyout within 180 days of receiving written notice that you do not want to be contacted about it.

If a court finds that your landlord has harassed you, it may issue a restraining order against the landlord to prevent further harassment. The court may also impose a penalty of $1,000 to $10,000 against the landlord. The fines can increase if a previous finding of harassment was made against the same landlord within the past five years after March 29, 2015.

Legal Editor: Darryl M. Vernon, October 2016

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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