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8 Ways to (Legally) Scare and Protect Yourself From Your Landlord

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Dealing with the landlord can sometimes be more than a simple chore or a small hassle. If your landlord shows signs of rudeness or attempts to do unscrupulous things, you need to take some protective measures as a tenant to scare him away and avoid any harassment. Most landlords are professionals who understand the importance of respecting the lease agreement as well as the rights of their tenants. However, some landlords can make unreasonable demands that may sometimes escalate to various threats including violence or eviction.

Keeping your landlord in check is vital if you wish to protect your interests as a tenant. There are several ways to prevent costly legal battles and figure out how to fight back against unethical landlords looking to exploit you. Not knowing your rights as a tenant can put you at a severe disadvantage when dealing with the demands of your landlord but you need to assert yourself and scare the landlord away. Let’s take a detailed look at the precise methods to do it.

1. Learn Your Rights as a Tenant and Make it Obvious To Your Landlord That You Know Them

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The old saying “knowledge is power” can be applied very well when it comes to handling a difficult landlord. Understanding your rights as a tenant will offer you the best kind of protection because you will be able to take advantage of the protections put in place by the law to face your landlord problems. Whether your lease agreement is based on a fixed term or a periodic tenancy, the landlord has certain responsibilities.

Tenants have the right to live in proper housing conditions where health and safety standards are met. The landlord needs to respect the local building code and ensure that common areas, like stairwells for example, are maintained in good working conditions. The property has to be well maintained as well, meaning that any repairs required have to be done as fast as possible by professional contractors.

Different states of the US have variable local landlord and tenant laws and you need to be aware of the ones applicable to your situation. It might take up some time to dig up the local housing laws online but it’s worth doing it to protect yourself. Rude and unscrupulous landlords can easily be scared into submission by tenants knowledgeable about important legal aspects concerning rental agreements. In some areas, for example, it’s considered tenant harassment if the landlord enters the property without your prior approval.

2. Make Sure You Have a Copy of the Lease Agreement And Read it Twice

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The lease agreement is an important document because it has legally binding powers for you and the landlord. The tenant usually receives a copy of the lease agreement when the document is written and signed. Make sure you always have your copy ready when needed as it’s a useful tool to have when resolving disputes with landlords. Take good care of it and try to find it if the document is lost.

The lease agreement should provide a solid outline of all the terms that need to be followed by the landlord. It also shows the conditions that you need to respect as a tenant. If the landlord acts as if they’ve forgotten some of their obligations, it’s worth showing him the copy of the document as a helpful reminder. If the landlord agreed to certain conditions written in the agreement, he needs to respect his promises and follow them considering that a legal contract has been signed.

3. Make Only Written Requests

Young Man Writing an Important Document

Ignoring or forgetting your requests can be some of the most common problems experienced when facing unkind landlords. Tenants should avoid verbal requests and instead make only written ones that will scare the landlord into compliance. Sending them a written request will essentially create an obligation to formulate a response. It can’t be simply ignored because the written request stays on record as proof of the landlord’s inaction.

If you need to have something repaired on the leased property, it’s recommended to include a time frame to ensure that your landlord takes proper action.

4. Document All Your Negotiations And Make it Known To Your Landlord That You Did

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Get into the habit of keeping records of communication when dealing with the landlord. This is a preventive measure that you can take to protect yourself from a potential dispute escalating into a legal battle down the road. Having a well-documented record of your interactions with the landlord provides accountability for any commitments that were made.

Negotiations between tenants and landlords can happen using different methods of communication. It’s preferable to interact through emails as written records are easier to keep track of. But you can also document phone calls and physical interactions. Pay attention to the visits done by the landlord and note down the time and cause. All these documented records can prove invaluable if you have to go to court to settle a legal dispute.

5. Fight Discrimination Through Legal Channels

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If you feel that you’re treated unfairly due to your race, sex, or religion, this could be a case of discrimination. The simplest way to fight against it is to reach the HUD, the department of Housing and Urban Development. It can take legal action if the landlord attempts to evict you due to discrimination.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Report Violations

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Does your landlord still fail to comply with an important safety regulation even after repeated requests? In a situation where you feel that the property’s safety isn’t correctly maintained according to local laws, you are entitled to file a complaint and report the landlord’s violations. This could be a hassle to do but it’s a last resort method if negotiations didn’t manage to resolve the issue. Threatening to report violations of safety regulations could often be enough to scare the landlord into submission.

7. Get Legal Help and Ask Your Lawyer to Contact Your Landlord on Your Behalf

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If you’re struggling with the intricate details of your local laws and can’t resolve a landlord dispute, your best bet is to get legal help from a professional lawyer. They can provide guidance and assist you in the process of protecting your rights as a tenant. It’s particularly urgent to seek legal advice if you’re dealing with a very unreasonable landlord who keeps harassing you and repeatedly breaks the lease terms.

Lawyers specialized in landlord-tenant disputes will be able to help you file a lawsuit and build a strong case against the unruly landlord. Many serious disputes can only be resolved in a court of law where the landlord can be forced to respect their obligations. If this sounds a little too complicated right now, you might be able to choose mediation through a third party that could handle the negotiations with the landlord on your behalf.

8. File a Police Report

Young Man Entering the Police Station to File a Report

If you’re threatened with illegal eviction, it’s important to report the landlord to the police. Filing a police report is one of the most effective methods to scare the landlord and cause them to back down. Going to the police is also mandatory if you’re worried that your belongings will be forcefully removed from the property and the landlord threatens physical assault. Make sure you have written records and collect solid evidence of the landlord’s wrongdoings before the police report.


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