7 Things a Landlord Can't Evict For

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Landlords can evict tenants for not paying rent, subject to proper procedures and limitations. Landlords cannot generally evict tenants as revenge for using their rights, otherwise known as a “retaliatory eviction.” Additionally, evicting a tenant for certain discriminatory reasons is an improper eviction. This varies heavily by state and locality, so check your local laws!

Using Your Rights or Complaining

Most states protect tenants from eviction in retaliation for their exercise of a legal right. For example, if the landlord is required to provide proper roofing (as most landlords are), the landlord cannot evict the tenant for reporting the problem in most areas. A notable exception is New Orleans, where retaliatory evictions are rarely enforced, allowing tenants to easily be evicted for nearly any reason, including using their rights.

Deducting Repairs or Withholding Rent

Some states let tenants deduct the cost of repairs from the rent, and some let tenants withhold rent altogether until major fixes are made. The tenant may be able to defend against eviction by showing that it was in retaliation for using these rights, where that right is granted to tenants. Some states also allow the tenant to bring a private lawsuit against a landlord for retaliatory eviction. These rules often include very specific forms and procedures that must be followed to use these rights, and tenants that fail to follow those procedures usually can be evicted.

Joining a Tenant Association

Most states protect tenants from eviction in retaliation for their lawful organization or participation in a tenants’ organization or protest. A tenant may be able to defend against eviction by showing that the eviction was in retaliation for joining such a group. Some states also allow the tenant to bring a private lawsuit against a landlord for retaliatory eviction.

Discriminatory Reasons

Most state laws protect tenants from eviction in retaliation for their opposing, reporting, or encouraging someone to exercise their rights against a landlord's unlawful discrimination. Federal law protects against housing discrimination against a person’s race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. State and local laws may expand on those categories, potentially protecting tenants from discrimination for immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and even physical appearance. A tenant may be able to defend against eviction by showing that it was retaliatory or based on a discriminatory motive. Some states also allow the tenant to bring a private lawsuit against a landlord for retaliatory discrimination or eviction or report it to authorities who can bring actions against landlords.

Animal or Pet

The lease usually dictates whether a tenant can have a pet. Most states require a landlord to terminate a tenancy by giving the tenant proper advance written notice (for example, 30-day notice to end a month-to-month tenancy) but a landlord may terminate a tenancy with a shorter eviction notice if the tenant has violated any provision of the lease or rental agreement (for example, the tenant has a pet but the lease does not permit pets). If the violation involves something that the tenant can correct, the notice must give the tenant the option to correct the violation. If the tenant corrects the violation of the lease or rental agreement during the notice period, the tenancy continues. If the tenant does not correct the violation, then the landlord can file an unlawful detainer case.

Mental or Physical Disability

There are major exceptions to evictions under the American Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. Under the Fair Housing Act, if a tenant is mentally or physically disabled, a landlord cannot refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services necessary for the tenant to use the housing on an equal basis with nondisabled persons. For example, a building with a "no pets" policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.

Hoarding

Under the Fair Housing Act, it is sometimes illegal to evict a tenant solely on the grounds of hoarding, as hoarding is generally considered a cognizable mental illness. If the tenant has documentation that their hoarding is a mental illness, their hoarding is not itself grounds for lawful eviction. If the hoarding results in other tenants being disturbed (either by smell, infestation, or other related issues), damage to the property, the blocking of emergency exits, interference with sprinkler systems, or otherwise breaches a lease provision, then the landlord must first attempt a reasonable accommodation for the hoarding. Only if no reasonable accommodation is available can the landlord evict the tenant solely for their hoarding.

Using Your Rights or Complaining


Most states protect tenants from eviction in retaliation for their exercise of a legal right. For example, if the landlord is required to provide proper roofing (as most landlords are), the landlord cannot evict the tenant for reporting the problem in most areas. A notable exception is New Orleans, where retaliatory evictions are rarely enforced, allowing tenants to easily be evicted for nearly any reason, including using their rights.

Deducting Repairs or Withholding Rent


Some states let tenants deduct the cost of repairs from the rent, and some let tenants withhold rent altogether until major fixes are made. The tenant may be able to defend against eviction by showing that it was in retaliation for using these rights, where that right is granted to tenants. Some states also allow the tenant to bring a private lawsuit against a landlord for retaliatory eviction. These rules often include very specific forms and procedures that must be followed to use these rights, and tenants that fail to follow those procedures usually can be evicted.

Joining a Tenant Association


Most states protect tenants from eviction in retaliation for their lawful organization or participation in a tenants’ organization or protest. A tenant may be able to defend against eviction by showing that the eviction was in retaliation for joining such a group. Some states also allow the tenant to bring a private lawsuit against a landlord for retaliatory eviction.

Discriminatory Reasons


Most state laws protect tenants from eviction in retaliation for their opposing, reporting, or encouraging someone to exercise their rights against a landlord's unlawful discrimination. Federal law protects against housing discrimination against a person’s race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. State and local laws may expand on those categories, potentially protecting tenants from discrimination for immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and even physical appearance. A tenant may be able to defend against eviction by showing that it was retaliatory or based on a discriminatory motive. Some states also allow the tenant to bring a private lawsuit against a landlord for retaliatory discrimination or eviction or report it to authorities who can bring actions against landlords.

Animal or Pet


The lease usually dictates whether a tenant can have a pet. Most states require a landlord to terminate a tenancy by giving the tenant proper advance written notice (for example, 30-day notice to end a month-to-month tenancy) but a landlord may terminate a tenancy with a shorter eviction notice if the tenant has violated any provision of the lease or rental agreement (for example, the tenant has a pet but the lease does not permit pets). If the violation involves something that the tenant can correct, the notice must give the tenant the option to correct the violation. If the tenant corrects the violation of the lease or rental agreement during the notice period, the tenancy continues. If the tenant does not correct the violation, then the landlord can file an unlawful detainer case.

Mental or Physical Disability


There are major exceptions to evictions under the American Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. Under the Fair Housing Act, if a tenant is mentally or physically disabled, a landlord cannot refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services necessary for the tenant to use the housing on an equal basis with nondisabled persons. For example, a building with a "no pets" policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.

Hoarding


Under the Fair Housing Act, it is sometimes illegal to evict a tenant solely on the grounds of hoarding, as hoarding is generally considered a cognizable mental illness. If the tenant has documentation that their hoarding is a mental illness, their hoarding is not itself grounds for lawful eviction. If the hoarding results in other tenants being disturbed (either by smell, infestation, or other related issues), damage to the property, the blocking of emergency exits, interference with sprinkler systems, or otherwise breaches a lease provision, then the landlord must first attempt a reasonable accommodation for the hoarding. Only if no reasonable accommodation is available can the landlord evict the tenant solely for their hoarding.

Last Update : July 22, 2018 UTC

Comments discussing Improper Reasons for Eviction

3 months ago
0
votes

I moved in with an old high school friend.I paid my half off the bills as we verbally agreed upon..less than three weeks later my friend stops coming home or answering my phone calls ...She sends her mother to our house in which I have already paid half of the months rent and informs me I have 4 days to get out..the next day they had the electricity and water turned off on me...i left to go take a shower when I came back the locks were changed and they refused to give me any of my belongings...this was during the mandatory quarantine for the corona virus.
Renter in Biloxi, MS, USA
Improper Reasons for Eviction
9 months ago
0
votes

I have lived at my place of residence for 3 years now. Always paid my rent on time if not early. The apartments got new management and started to renovate empty apartments. Management wanted to renovate my apartment so basically kicking me and my family out. Asked if possible rent one of the other apartments after he renovates them but said no, only want people of higher standards because we smoke cigarettes. Is this legal on what the new management is doing?
Renter in Albuquerque, NM, USA
Improper Reasons for Eviction
about 1 year ago
0
votes

Was served a hand written 3 day pay or evuct .. five days before my rent due date , and lease states I have five day grace period .
Renter in Inverness, FL, USA
Improper Reasons for Eviction
over 1 year ago
1
votes

I got a attorney and it was settled the I could continue to stay in the building , but came back a month later with a 30 day notice
Renter in Chicago, IL, USA
Improper Reasons for Eviction
about 1 year ago
0
votes

No formal lease and landlords removed belongings after I was away for 4 days. No eviction notice ever received in writing. Only verbal
Renter in Portland, OR, USA
Improper Reasons for Eviction
about 1 year ago
0
votes

I requested in Feb to move to a new bigger unit. It is now almost August and they still wont move me. Have put in many request and still no response. Now I have no lease .
Renter in Warr Acres, OK, USA
Improper Reasons for Eviction