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Unlawful landlord retaliation takes many forms

7/20/2016 | Real Estate Blog

Pennsylvania law outlines what is expected of landlords, and at least one thing is exceptionally clear — retaliating against tenants is expressly prohibited. Business owners sometimes struggle to identify this type of behavior, especially as they focus on the ongoing success of their commercial ventures. Landlord retaliation can even force business owners to take desperate measures in attempts to retain their commercial space.

Many tenants isolate the idea of retaliation as solely existing between an employer and employee. The loosest definition involves a person in a position of authority exercising unlawful punishment against another for making a valid complaint. When applied to landlords and their tenants, the potential for unlawful retaliatory behavior can be quite clear.

Since tenants usually must go through their landlords to make legitimate complaints regarding building concerns, otherwise valid concerns can result in retaliation. Retaliation commonly takes form in the refusal to renew a tenant’s lease. When a tenant’s lease is not yet up, some landlords attempt to push a business out of a commercial space by eviction. In other situations, rent might be raised without notice or concern for a tenant’s ability to pay.

Perhaps the most common form of retaliation comes down to inaction. Refusing to perform requested services — such as hiring a plumber for leaking pipes — tends to be perceived as laziness rather than retaliatory action. In reality, landlords may employ this strategy to push tenants out of commercial spaces without making their intentions obvious.

The relationship between landlord and tenant is one that must be grounded in both the law and mutual trust, and commercial tenants should be able to expect timely action when voicing valid complaints regarding the state of their rented spaces. Landlord retaliation can compromise a business’s best interests while neglecting the special needs of commercial tenants. While these matters can be troublesome, they are often easily resolved when experienced counsels provide guidance to Pennsylvania tenants.