Depending on the state, the tenant or the landlord is afforded more rights with commercial and residential lease and rental properties. The circumstances of the lease or rental agreement may also alter what rights are protected and used in claims of harassment and similar situations. For the landlord to avoid litigation, he or she must be aware of what elements of the dealing could lead to a lawsuit. In order to avoid these concerns, he or she must take action before the suit is possible. There are three important factors to the harassment claim that should be prevented from transpiring.
Commercial tenants in numerous states are protected from harassment activity by landlords and owners of the real estate property. For this violation to occur, the landlord or another acting on his or her behalf must cause the tenant to vacate the property or surrender his or her rights with the lease agreement, or the landlord must commit a wrongful act outlined in various regulations. This may include a threat or force, interruptions during commercial services, court proceedings and tenant property being removed by the landlord. The protections in place based on the state provide additional safeguards against actions taken by the owner or landlord. For the tenant, he or she is safe protected by the law and may have civil recourse.
10 Examples of Landlord Harassment
- Failing to perform maintenance tasks in a timely and responsible manner
- Withholding services and/or amenities that were previously allowed, such as pool privileges or landscaping services,
- Coercive actions like, Turning off utilities or amenities listed in the lease and/or normally provided during the tenancy
- Notices of improper conduct that are made up or exaggerated
- Notices of improper conduct that single out the tenant while violations from other tenants are ignored
- Refusing to accept or otherwise acknowledge proper payment of rent
- Entering the property without just cause or proper notice, often repeatedly
- Creating a nuisance (like loud noise or throwing trash) that disrupts the tenant’s ability to quietly enjoy the rental unit
- Deliberate destruction of tenant’s property
- Threats of financial injury, such as reporting to a credit bureau or refusing to provide positive references to future landlords
- Physical intimidation and threats of physical violence
Actions to Avoid
The landlord of a commercial property has many provisions and conditions in place with the lease agreement. Breech of these clauses could result in civil litigation. However, other actions may also result in similar action. The landlord should avoid any possible construed activity that may be presented as force against the tenant or customers of the business. This could include any interruptions of business transactions between the company owner and customers or clients. If the lease is valid and still within the defined time period terms, no court proceedings should be initiated against the tenant. Removal of any personal property of the business owner could result in harassment charges. Disturbances to the entryway of the commercial property results in an interruption of business, and this should be avoided to include changing of locks, removing the door or blocking the path.
Some landlords may feel that the business contract should be severed and attempt to keep the tenant form entering the building. This is grounds for a civil harassment claim. He or she should also avoid unneeded construction or repairs that have not been detailed in the lease agreement. Repeated actions that could disturb business interactions should not occur. Mandatory civil penalties could be the result of a successful lawsuit against the landlord if he or she has been considered engaging in harassment behavior. Depending on the state, these penalties include fines or restraining orders. A violation of lease terms often results in similar action.
Possible Fines and Complications
If a landlord has been judged as harassing his or her tenant, he or she may be penalized anywhere between $1000 and $10,000 by the courts. The judge may decide that an additional restraining order is needed so that harassment in the future is prevented. This could also include any lawyer fees are paid by this landlord. Additionally, he or she may be required to only have contact through electronic or telephone means. No personal visits may be permitted if the court issues the restraining order, and the landlord may need to schedule certain repairs and maintenance in advance to avoid possible harassment after the first judgment.
A complication for the tenant even if the landlord has been judged as harassing him or her is that the lease may still be terminated. Any possible extension or renewal of the commercial property for the business could be revoked. The real estate may be repossessed by the landlord, and he or she may refuse to deal with the tenant in the future. If the rent is delinquent, he business owner may be evicted or a part or all harassment awards could be used to pay for past due rent.
Commercial Harassment Legal Help
If the tenant of a commercial building has been harassed, it is imperative that a business lawyer is hired to assist with this ordeal. He or she may protect the tenant’s rights and seek a remedy to the situation.
Provided by HG.org