We all wish to live in a safe apartment, but sometimes you might be unfortunate with the person who turns out to be your landlord. So, if your landlord has turned out to be a nuisance, I will show you how to legally screw over your landlord. When I say legally, I mean no room for petty stuff such as pouring oil down the drain.
I understand the frustration when your landlord is not doing their job properly, especially when you’re holding up your end of the deal by paying rent on time, taking care of your rental unit, and following all the terms of your lease. In a fair world, since you are doing everything you’re supposed to as a tenant, your landlord should be holding up their end of the bargain too. This means responding to your requests for repairs and treating you fairly and without discrimination. Even raising rent and returning your security deposit when moving out should follow your lease and local laws.
But what if you’ve signed a long-term lease and you’re stuck dealing with a bad landlord for months to come? You have options, and I will show you the legal ways to deal with an irresponsible landlord.
How to Legally Screw Over Your Landlord
Know Your Tenant Rights
Make sure you are aware of your rights as a tenant according to your state’s law. Even if you don’t have a lease agreement, there are still certain rights guaranteed to you by the law. For example, in California, Residential Landlord & Tenant laws give renters the right to withhold rent in specific situations, break a lease without facing penalties, and receive proper notice before a lease is terminated.
Document Issues Thoroughly
You need evidence before taking steps to legally screw over your landlord. This will serve as personal protection for yourself as a tenant. Just document any issues you have with your rental unit, be it repair concerns or anything else.
If you encounter any problems, take photographs and videos of the situation. Also, make sure to keep copies of any written correspondence you have with your landlord. These documents can serve as valuable evidence should you need to take legal action.
File a Complaint Against the Landlord
If your landlord isn’t responding to your concerns, you may want to consider reporting them to the local authorities. They will look into the situation and determine if there’s any basis for your complaint.
Determine if You Have Grounds to Withhold Rent
As a tenant, you have the right to live in a unit that complies with the state’s health and safety codes. Your landlord is also responsible for making any necessary repairs to maintain the unit’s habitability.
If your landlord fails to address these issues, you may have the option to withhold rent or break the lease without facing penalties. In addition to legally screwing over your landlord, you can sue them for damages or even make the repairs yourself and deduct the costs from your rent payments.
However, before you legally screw over your landlord with any of these options, make sure you fully understand your state’s laws. You may also want to consider consulting with a legal professional to ensure you’re taking the right steps.
Consider Legal Action Against Your Landlord
If everything else does not lead to a resolution, consider taking your landlord to court for any damages you have suffered as a result of their actions. Court processes can be long and expensive, but sometimes it’s the only way to hold the landlord accountable for their negligent or careless behavior.
Lock the Key Inside if You Are Moving Out
If your landlord is a complete jerk, it might be time to consider moving out. When you’re ready to hand over the keys, make sure to leave them on the kitchen counter in the suite. If your laundry room has a door that connects to your suite, make sure to lock the deadbolt. Don’t forget to lock the main entrance as well. Given that your landlord is a jerk, it’s likely that he hasn’t bothered to fix the unit entrance like he promised six months ago.
They are the ones who told you to lock the door because you wouldn’t be able to get back in. So, when they call you to ask where the keys are, you can calmly tell them that you left the keys on the kitchen counter and locked up for security. Ask if they do not have another set of keys. Well, that’s just too bad. You didn’t know.
Rights You Have as a Tenant
When renting an apartment, understand the laws that protect you as a tenant. One of the main areas of tenancy law that you should be familiar with is privacy laws. Your landlord is responsible for respecting your privacy and must follow the terms of the lease agreement as well as federal, state, and local laws. In many states, landlords are required to give tenants notice before entering their rental property. For example, in California, landlords must provide tenants with 24 hours’ notice before entering their apartment.
If your landlord entered your home without notice, they may be violating your privacy rights. In cases like this, you may have the option to take legal action against your landlord. If your landlord has entered your home without notice multiple times, you could consider taking them to small claims court. The strength of your case will depend on the evidence you have to support your claim. In addition to filing a lawsuit, you may also be able to terminate your lease without penalty if your landlord has violated your privacy rights.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home. There are seven protected characteristics under federal law: race, color, religion, sex, disability, national origin, and familial status. If you belong to one of these groups, your landlord cannot treat you unfairly because of it. Here are some examples of what they cannot do:
- Refusing to rent to people from a certain group.
- Writing ads that show a preference for or against people from a certain group.
- Claiming that the rental unit is not available when it really is.
- Having different rules for people from different groups. For example, checking the credit of Black and Hispanic tenants but not doing the same for White tenants.
- Asking illegal questions during the application process.
- Denying your support animal even if they have a no pets policy. The Federal Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act both say that’s not allowed.
If your landlord has done any of these, you may be able to take legal action against them. You can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development or sue them for discrimination.
Right to Quiet Enjoyment
One of the responsibilities your landlord has is to make sure you can enjoy your rented home in peace without unnecessary disruptions. This is known as your right to quiet enjoyment. Your landlord might be breaking this rule if they:
- Go through your personal things without asking you first.
- Don’t take steps to reduce disruptions that affect your peace and quiet.
- Harass you, either in person or over the phone.
- Don’t provide essential services that were agreed upon in your lease or rental agreement.
- Don’t fix maintenance problems on time.
- Stop you from using your property as you wish, like having guests over.
You can legally screw over your landlord if they have done any of these things. But first, write them a letter explaining the problem and how it’s affecting you. This might be all it takes to get your landlord to fix the issue. But if they don’t, you may have other options, depending on where you live. You might be able to withhold rent, end your lease early, or take your landlord to small claims court.
Right to Live in a Habitable Home
You have the right to live in a home that is safe, healthy, and meets your state’s building codes. While these specific codes can vary from state to state, generally speaking, landlords are required to provide:
- A property that is free from pests
- An adequate ventilation system
- Functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- A working bathroom and toilet
- A sanitary living environment
- Reasonable protection from criminal harm
- Heating during cold weather
- Drinkable water
- Hot water
- Working electricity
Your landlord must address maintenance issues within a reasonable time frame. Some states may specify a certain number of days for repairs to be made (often 14 days from when the request was made), while others may simply state that repairs must be done within a reasonable time.
If your home becomes unlivable, the first step you should take is to notify your landlord in writing. This way, you’ll have documented proof of your complaint if the situation escalates.
Depending on the state you live in, you may have a few different options if your landlord fails to address the issue. You could:
- Report your landlord to local authorities, such as the Department of Public Health.
- Pay to have the problem fixed yourself and then subtract the cost from your rent.
- Terminate your lease early without facing any penalties.
Read also: Can a Landlord Bad Mouth a Tenant?